?Hnibers!it|) of jgortfj Carolina
THE LIBRARY OF THE
AT CHAPEL HILL
1 *- s
1 z 1
1 < 8
1 X- 8-
1 <£ 1
ENDOWED BY THE
DIALECTIC AND PHILANTHROPIC
OCT 1*9 1975
UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL
This book is due at the WALTER R. DAVIS LIBRARY on
the last date stamped under "Date Due." If not on hold, it may
be renewed by bringing it to the library.
Form No 513,
OLD TIMES IN
A Southern Matron's Memories
CAROLINE E. MERRICK
THE GRAFTON PRESS
By CAROLINE ELIZABETH MERRICK
I. Cottage Hall 5
II. Old Times 11
III. Home Life 17
IV. Rumors op Our Civil War 24
V. My Daughter Laura's Diary 37
VI. War Memories : How Becky Coleman Washed
Hester Whitefield's Face 48
VII. War Memories : The Story of Patsy's Garden. 59
VIII. How Woman Came to the Rescue 69
IX. Miss Vine's Dinner Party and its Abrupt Con-
X. Our Federal Friends and the Colored Brother 104
XI. Laura's Death in the Epidemic of '78 116
XII. A First Speech and Some Noted Women 124
XIII. Frances Willard , 141
XIV. Sorrow and Sympathy. 153
XV. Becky Speaks Up in Meeting in the Interests
of Morality 164
XVI. Mrs. Julia Ward Howe and the Blessed
Colored People 171
XVII. Nervous Prostration and a Veneraele Cousin. 186
XVIII. Enter— as an Episode— Mrs. Columbiana Por-
XIX. The Southern Woman Becomes a "Clubable"
Being , , 212
XX. "The Best is Yet To Be" 229
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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
OLD TIMES IN DIXIE LAND
I have not written these memoirs entirely for the
amusement or instruction of my contemporaries; but I
shall feel rewarded if I elicit thereby the interest and
sympathy which follows an honest effort to tell the
truth in the recollections of one's life — for„ after all,
truth is the chief virtue of history. My ancestry may
be of as little importance in itself as this book is likely
to be after the lapse of a few years ; yet it is satisfactory
to know that your family is respectable, — even if you
cannot prove it to be so ancient that it has no beginning,
and so worthy that it ought to have no end. I am will-
ing, however, that my genealogy should be investigated ;
there are books giving the whole history ; and it is surely
an innocent and praiseworthy pride — that of good ped-
I was born November 24th, 1825, at our plantation
home, called Cottage Hall, in the xjarish of East Feli-
ciana, in the State of Louisiana.! My father was a man
6 Old Times in Dixie Land.
of firmness and of courage amounting to stoicism. He
appeared calm and self-possessed under all circum-
stances. He ruled his own house, but so judicious was
his management that even his slaves loved him.
Though I was very young when my mother died, T
can remember her and the great affection manifested
for her by the entire family. While not realizing the
importance of my loss, I knew enough to resent the
coming of another to fill her place. My father said he
wanted a good woman who could see that his family of
six children were properly brought up and educated.
His nephew, Dr. James Thomas, introduced him to
Miss Susan Brewer, who he thought would fill all these
requirements. The marriage was soon arranged, and
I was brought home, to Cottage Hall, by my eldest sister,
with whom I had been living. The other children had
laid aside their mourning and I was informed that I
also had new dresses; but I declined to wear them or
to call the new mistress of the household by the name of
" Mother," which had been freely given her by the rest of
the family. When my father lifted me from the car-
riage he said : " My child, I will now take you to your
new mother." As he kissed me affectionately I turned
away and said : " I am not your child, and I have no
mother now." I have never forgotten the sad look he
gave me nor the tenderness he manifested toward my
waywardness as he took me in his arms and carried me
into the house. I was a troublesome little girl with an
impetuous temper ; perhaps it was on this account that he
often said : " This golden-haired darling is the dearest
little one in the house — and the most exacting." My
Cottage Hall. 7
father had a vein of quaint humor and abounded in pro-
verbial wisdom. I have heard him say, " Yes, I have a
very bad memory — I remember what should be forgot-
We often had friends and schoolmates to spend
the day or night at Cottage Hall ; but when these visits
were returned we were always accompanied by our mar-
ried sister or some equally responsible chaperone. We
complained much of this rigid rule, yet I now think it
was a wise exaction that every night should find us
sheltered under the home roof. My father had no pa-
tience with the innocent flirtations of young people;
he thought such conduct implied a lack of straight-
forward honesty which was inexcusable. Few men can
understand the temptations of a young girl's environ-
ment, which sometimes cause her to make promises in
good faith that cannot be carried out, and my father
had no pity on one who so doted on general admiration
that she was unwilling to contract her life into a simple
home with one true, brave heart. Such an one, he
thought, deserved to become a lonely old maid and hold
a pet dog in her arms, with never a child of her own,
because she had turned away from her highest vocation
— and all for pure vanity and folly.
My stepmother was a gifted woman. She was born in
Wilbraham, Massachusetts, in 1790, and died July 25th,
1876. She had come South by the advice of Dr. Wilbur
Fisk, and was instrumental in bringing into Alabama,
Mississippi and Louisiana over sixty accomplished
teachers, she herself having been <at the head of success-
ful schools in New York, Baltimore, Tuscaloosa and
8 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Washington. The calling of teaching she gave up
when she married my father, but the cause of education
in the South was greatly promoted by her influence, for
which reason she has been compared to Mary Lyon of
On one occasion, when my stepmother had a large
party of Northern people at tea, they began praising
the products of their own State and depreciating those of
Louisiana. My childish anger was stirred, and I
asked our guests why they had come down here if they
had everything so much nicer and better in Massachu-
setts? I said no more, for a maid was called and I was
sent to bed, retiring with indignation while the company
laughed spiritedly at my impertinence. One of my
sisters wrote me later, " Ma has no occasion to teach
you how to manage, for you were born with a talent
for ruling — whether wisely or not time will show."
Cottage Hall was five miles from Jackson, Louisiana.
My father was for many years trustee of the college there
which afterward became Centenary College of the
Methodist Episcopal Church South. His death oc-
curred in 1849> and I have preserved a eulogy delivered
by President Augustus Baldwin Longstreet during the
Commencement exercises of the year. From this I
transcribe a few sentences:
"A sad announcement will be anticipated by those
who have been long in the habit of attending these ocea-
eions when they cast their eyes over the Board of Trus-
tees and see that the seat of Captain David Thomas is
) vacant. Never since the foundation of the College was
Cottage Hall. 9
it so before. He was present at the birth of this in-
stitution; he saw it in all its promising and dispiriting
visitations; and while it had no peculiar claims upon
him, he watched over it with parental solicitude. At
length he rejoiced in its commitment to the care of
his own church; and under the management of my pre-
decessor, he saw it assume an honorable rank among
the kindred institutions of our Southern clime. His
head, his heart and purse were all at its service. He
was anticipating the events of this week with hopeful
gratification when, within forty-eight hours of the time
he expected to mingle his counsels with his colleagues,
it pleased God to cut him down. Were our griefs always
proportioned to our losses, his wife, his children, the or-
phan, the poor, the church, the trustees, the faculty,
and the students would all have raised one wild shriek
at the twang of the archer's bow which laid him low.
Were the joys of friendship proportioned to the good
fortune of a friend, we should all rejoice and mingle
our voices in loud hallelujahs that death had snatched
him away; for that he has gone direct from earth to
heaven none can doubt who knew him. I find it hard
to restrain the starting tears; but this is my weakness.
We all should rejoice, but this our nature will not per-
mit; yet we must testify our respect for his memory."
Then Judge Longstreet read the resolutions of the
Board of Trustees of Centenary College, which had been
placed in his hands. This extraordinary man was a
dear friend of our family, and every child in the
house enjoyed his visits. He played on a glass flute
io Old Times in Dixie Land.
for us, and it was a choice privilege when we were
allowed to hear him read from his " Georgia Scenes "
about the comical doings of Ned Brace and Cousin
Patsy. His peculiarities bordered on eccentricity and
his wit was inimitable and irresistible.
Mrs. Longstreet was a lovely woman of whose pres-
ence one never wearied. She wore the daintiest of white
caps, and seemed in the eyes of all like the angel she
was. Of Byron, Walter Scott, and historical literature
she could give pages from memory with great expression
and in the sweetest voice imaginable. She was ideally
sweet even in her most advanced years — a vision which
once seen can never be forgotten.
On a clear spring morning more than fifty years ago,
Cousin Antoinette and I sat on the front porch of Cot-
tage Hall ready for a ride and waiting for the stable boy
to bring up our ponies. We were in the act of mount-
ing when my father appeared and inquired where we
" We shall not take a long ride, papa. We are not
going anywhere, and shall return in good time for break-
" You will do nothing of the kind. You have no
brother here to ride with you, and it is improper for two
young ladies to be seen on the public road alone so
early in the morning." He then ordered the horses
back to the lot. We were obliged to submit to his au-
thority without protest, though I was ready to say,
" There is a word sweeter than ' mother, home, or
heaven,' and that word is ' liberty.' " Contrast this
with the freedom of the modern girl on her bicycle !
Once when I left the schoolroom on account of a dis-
agreement with the governess,, my stepmother thought
my father should require me to return and apologize.
" No," he replied, " she elects her own life and must
abide by her choice ; she shall not be coerced." I was
12 Old Times in Dixie Land.
never afterward a student in any schoolroom, though at
this time only in my thirteenth year. I had been in class
with girls three or four years older than myself, and
was considered quite mature in person and mental de-
velopment. I early ascertained that girls had a sphere
wherein they were expected to remain and that the des-
potic hand of some man was continually lifted to keep
them revolving in a certain prescribed and very restrict-
ed orbit. When mild reproofs failed there were always
other curbs for the idiot with eccentric inclinations.
Yet it was with my father's full consent, even by his
advice, that at fifteen years of age I married Edwin
Thomas Merrick, for he thought I could not enter too
soon upon woman's exclusive path, and be marching
along towards woman's kingdom with a companion in
the prime of a noble manhood. I was indebted for my
" bringing up " to the young man I married. He was
more than twice my age, and possessed many times over
my amount of wisdom. In one of Mr. Merrick's love-
letters, written in 1839, alluding to a remark of mine
on the absurdity of a " young thing like me " being
companionable for a man of thirty years, he says:
" Is it not ' ridiculously absurd ' for a young lady who
talks seriously of moving an island in the lake of
Windermere to suppose she is not old enough to marry
anybody? I have been reared in the cold North where
mind and person come to maturity slowly; you in the
sunny South where the flower bursts at once into full
luxuriance and beauty." Lover-like, he compliments
me by continuing : " I have never discovered in you
anything to remind me of the disparity of our ages;
Old Times. 13
but, on the contrary, I have found a maturity of judg-
ment, correctness of taste and extent of accomplish-
ments which cause me to feel that you have every ac-
quisition of a lady of twenty; and I have been happier
in your society than in that of any other human being."
My husband, the nephew of my stepmother, was born
July 9th, 1809, in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. He
was >an advocate and jurist, served as district judge of
the Florida parishes, and was twice elected chief justice
of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.
The entire household at Cottage Hall was devoted to
" Cousin Edwin," as he was called after our Southern
fashion of claiming kinship with those we like. I re-
member that when Mrs. Lafa}^ette Saunders heard that
Mrs. Thomas had made this match, she replied:
" It is a pity she did not do the same for all the family,
for she surely has made a good one for Caroline ! "
For a year and a half Mr. Merrick and I had seen much
of each other and had exchanged frequent letters, many
of which have been sacredly preserved to the pres-
ent time. Bishop John C. Keener, who was his life-
long friend, said of him at the time of his death:
" Judge Merrick was always a bright, delightful person
in his family and with his acquaintances and friends.
He was a scholar, and was familiar with several modern
languages, especially French and German. He had an
investigating mind, loved to explore the recent wonders
of science, and the doctrine of evolution he accepted.
Few men had rounded their career into a grander ex-
pression of all the high qualities which concur in the
useful citizen and the influential public magistrate.
14 Old Times in Dixie Land.
He was an incorruptible and capable judge, which is
the most important and admirable character in the of-
ficial constituency of government."
The Law Association of New Orleans, in their trib-
ute to his memory, said to him — using his own words
at a like meeting in honor of Chief Justice Eustis:
" His judicial opinions show a comprehensive intellect,
cultivated by long study, and familiarized with the sen-
timents of the great writers and expounders of the
law. They were, as became them, more solid than bril-
liant, more massive than showy. They are like granite
masonry, and will serve as guides and landmarks in
years to come. He was domestic, temperate and simple
in his habits; modest, patient, punctual, and exceed-
ingly studious. In his family relations he was a good
husband, a wise and loving father. He loved his fellow-
men and enjoyed the success of others. He encouraged
young men, and with his brethren of the bar he was
always considerate, courteous and generous.'"'
Thus he received a beautiful and eloquent tribute
which dealt with both his public and private life.
In his home Mr. Merrick was always gentle and
lovable without the least apparent pride. He would en-
tertain with the greatest simplicity the youngest child
in the house; and this fact reminds me of a little boy
who deposited with tears a bouquet at his lifeless feet.
To the inquiry " Who sent them ? " he replied : " I
brought them. For three years he has given me money
to buy all my school book^, and I am so sorry he is
dead ! " In a letter my daughter-in-law had written me
while we were in Virginia during one of his last summers
Old Times. 15
on earth, she asked : " Does father still roam over the
hills gathering flowers for you to wear as he used to
do ? " Even in his old age his cheerfulness, his equi-
poise and sweetness never deserted him.
In regard to early marriages, I cannot, in view of my
own experience and long life of contentment and domes-
tic happiness, say aught unfavorable, though there is
another side to the question and modern custom tends
increasingly towards marriage at a later period. As
it is true that the progeny of immature plants and
animals do not equal in vigor and capacity for en-
durance the offspring of fully developed specimens, so
human beings who desire to establish a home and intend
to bring up a family, should not be children, but full-
grown, matured men and women; yet, all things else
being equal, it is surely better they should unite to make
up a perfect life before the season of youth has passed
away, and the man became blase, the woman warped.
Men are much concerned about our sex and the duties
and peculiar functions belonging thereto. It is my
opinion that they too need some instruction in regard to
the exercise and regulation of their own relations and
responsibilities toward the future welfare of the race.
They have decided that brain work is detrimental to
the full development of the organization of the female;
but they do not worry over the effects of tobacco, whisky
and certain vile habits upon the congenital vigor of
both boys and girls. Fathers and medical men ought to
look well to the hygienic duties of their own sex; then
both sexes would be born with better capacity for life
and growth, and the poor mother would not be obliged
16 Old Times in Dixie Land.
to spend so much care and trouble in rearing the off-
spring of debilitated manhood. Nature does not work
in a hurry. She is patient, persistent and deliberate,
never losing sight of her own great ends, and inexorable
as to her rights.
If study could check and thwart a child's growth
Margaret D'Ossoli would have been a case of arrested de-
velopment instead of a large-souled woman. It was her
father who kept her little head all day over Greek and
Latin exercises at the age of seven years, when she should
have been playing with her dolls and romping in the
fresh outdoor air. It was her father, M. Necker, who
trained Madame de Stael into a woman whom the great
Napoleon hated and even feared so much that he in-
sulted her childless wifehood by telling her that what
France needed was mothers, and sent her into banish-
It is useless to get up a lamentation that the race will
die out and children be neglected because woman is go-
ing to college and becoming informed and intellectual.
Nature will take care that she keeps to her principal
business, which is to become a willing (or unwilling)
medium to continue the species.
My home during my early married life was in the
town of Clinton, La. While I never coveted the owner-
ship of many slaves, my comfort was greatly promoted
by the possession of some who had been carefully trained
to be good domestics, and who were given to me by my
father on my marriage. I always liked to go into the
kitchen, but sometimes my cook, who had been for
twelve years in training, scorned my inexperienced
youth, would say emphatically, " Go inter de house,
Miss Carrie! Yer ain't no manner er use heah only
ter git yer face red wid de heat. I'll have dinner like
yer wants it. Jes' read yer book an' res' easy till I sen's
it ter de dining-room." I like just as much to go into
the kitchen to-day, and am accounted a "born cook,"
by my family, being accredited with a genius for giving
those delicious and elusive flavors that are inspirations
and cannot be taught. The artist cook burns neither
food nor fingers, is never hurried or flurried, and does
not reveal in appearance or manner that the table is
indebted to her handicraft.
The common idea of tyranny and ill-usage of slaves
was often reversed in my case, and I was subject at
times to exactions and dictations of the black people
18 Old Times in Dixie Land.
"who belonged to mei, which now seem almost too extraor-
dinary and incredible to relate. I made periodical visits
to our plantation in Point Coupe parish, over fifty miles
distant from Clinton. En route I would often desire
my coachman to drive faster, and he would do so for the
moment, then would fall back into the old pace. If
I remonstrated he would say : " I's 'sponsible f er dese
yeah horses, an' dey got ter fotch us back home, an' I
ain't er gwine ter kill 'em gettin' ter whar we gwine ter ;
an' I'd tell Marse Edwin de same thing if he was
Gardening has always greatly claimed my heart and
time. I have taken prizes at horticultural exhibits, and
have been no little vainglorious in this last year of the
century to be able to show the public the only blooming
-century-plant in New Orleans, or indeed in the State,
so far as I know, and for whose blossoming I have been
waiting thirty years. There is a " mild and gentle "
but indissoluble sympathy between the human soul and
the brown earth from which we have sprung, and to
which we shall return. There is no outward influence
that can be compared to that of living, growing, bloom-
ing things. The resurrections of the springtime cause
an epidemic of gardening fever that prevails until in-
tenser sunshine discourages exertions. When buds
are bursting and color begins to glow on every bush and
trellis I do not see how any one can be wholly miserable.
The great season of hope and promise stirs into fruit-
fulness of some sort the blood that has been marking
time for many years. This ever renewed, undiscouraged
passion of making the earth produce seems a proof that
Home Life. 19
man's natural occupation is husbandry. He keeps at
it through love as well as necessity, and every spring-
time he, as little subdued as nature, renews the con-
test. It is his destiny.
Therefore it is hardly a matter for surprise that my
first-born child appealed so strongly to my love of grow-
ing things that the office of my nurse was a mere sine-
cure, for my boy was always in my arms — perhaps the
more that I had been cut off prematurely from my dolls.
With every moment devoted to his interests he became
such a precocious wonder that all the servants proph-
esied: "Dat chile's not long for dis worF, Miss
QaXline!" I was not disturbed, however, by these
mournful predictions, knowing how much time and
patience had been invested in his baby education. When
I look back on this period I excuse myself on account of
my youth, yet at the same time I pity myself for my
ignorance. The experience I bought was high-priced.
The heavy and exacting responsibilities of a slave-
holder did not rest upon me with a lightness commen-
surate with my years. During my annual visits to the
plantation I was not sure of uninterrupted rest even at
night, for I never could refuse an interview to any of the
negroes who called upon me. I observe that my diaries
of those days are full of notes of my attendance upon!
sick servants. When President Lincoln issued his proc-
lamation of freedom to our slaves I exclaimed : " Thank
heaven ! I too shall be free at last ! " — forgetful of the
legal disabilities to which white women of these United
States are yet in bondage.
In the year 1851 I made my first trip to the North.
20 Old Times in Dixie Land.
While visiting in Ohio, my husband said : " I think
a little longer stay here will cure you of your anti-
slavery principles;" but I rejected with scorn the idea
that I would allow my personal comfort to bias my judg-
ment ; though I had to admit that one of my own trained
" darkies " was superior " help " to any that I had, so
far, encountered. My diary of the day records : " I
find the children here are set to work as soon as they are
able * to do a turn' or go on an errand, and are kept
steadily at it until they grow up, run away, or die.
Dear little ' Sis Daisy ' in this house is running con-
stantly all day long and her little fat hands are broader
than mine, from grasping things too large and heavy
for so small a child to handle. She drops to sleep some-
times in the big chair or on the lounge in my room. I
cover her with my dress and don't know anything about
her when she is called — happy to be sure she is getting
some rest. Night must be a blissful time for the over-
worked hired girls of the North, as they know nothing
of the many restful stops our self-protected blacks allow
themselves ' between times.' "
Slavery had many aspects. On the occasion of my
sister Ellen's marriage I was visiting at my fathers
home. Julia, my nurse, was of course deeply interested
in the preparations; and at one time when she wished
to be a spectator, my nine-months-old baby declined
to oblige her by going to sleep. I happened to follow
her into a darkened room where she had taken the child
to be rocked, and was just in time to witness a heavy
blow administered in anger to the little creature. In
an. instant the child was in my arms. " Go out of my
Home Life. 21
sight," I said, " you shall never touch her again. You
are free from this hour ! " At the end of the week I
was seated in the carriage with the baby on my lap,
about to return home. Julia stood awaiting orders. I
gave her none. " Shall I get in ? " she finally asked.
" You are free/' said I, " do as you please." She hes-
itated until the coachman peremptorily ordered her to
get in and let him drive on.
I held the child during the long drive to Clinton,
though I was very tired, and installed another nurse as
soon as I reached home, ignoring Julia's existence.
She had her home in the yard and her meals from my
, table as before. One of the other servants finally came
to me saying : " I declare, Miss Calline, Julia goin'
to die if you doan' giv' her somethin' ter do. She doan'
eat nothin'. Can't yo set her ter washin' ? " " She may
wash for herself or for you if she wishes," I replied;
" she is free ! " At the end of two weeks Julia threw
herself at my feet in a deluge of tears begging to be
forgiven and to be allowed to nurse her baby again.
I gave it back to her; but the child had turned against
her, and it was several days before the old relations were
restored. There were afterward no similar ruptures,
but Julia always resented the slightest reproof or ad-
verse criticism administered to that child by parent or
At twenty I was the mother of three children, born
in Clinton, Louisiana. My last and youngest came
twelve years later. When my friends remarked upon
the late arrival I informed them that he had come in
answer to special prayer, like Hannah's of old, so that
22 Old Times in Dixie Land.
my husband might have a child to comfort his old age
when the others were all settled in homes of their own.
Children are our treasure-idols; we are joined to
them by our heartstrings. We spend anxious days
and sleepless nights soothing their cries and comforting
their wailings, and we rejoice in our power to cherish
and nourish them into a full and happy life by -any
sacrifice of ourselves. God pity the desolate little ones
who come into the world unwelcomed, and grow up in
loveless homes! When in the great yellow fever
epidemic of 1878 I lost my eldest daughter, my good
children, David and Lula, gave me their baby Bessie
to comfort my sorrow. She was my own for four years.
I was in the habit of inviting my cousin, Miss Carrie
Brewer, to come regularly to instruct and play with her,
making the visits a recreation for both. In this man-
ner one of the most successful teachers of the kinder-
gartens of this city began her development, and thus my
interest in systematic child culture was inaugurated.
Various children certainly require various manage-
ment. Their education cannot begin too soon. The
Froebel system of kindergarten teaching has usually
a salutary influence on troublesome little folks, and
is deserving of the increasing attention it is receiving.
It is only in these latest days of the century that the ini-
tiatory period before school-life begins has had any
Mr. Merrick and I belonged to the New Orleans Edu-
cational Society. I was chairman of a committee which
was requested to make a report of its views on the
meeting of June 4th, 1884. Shortly after handing in
Home Life. 23
this report — which it had been thought proper a man
should read — we attended a special meeting for the
annual election of officers. When the balloting began,
I found I was not to be allowed any part in this matter,
though paying the same dues ($5.00) as the men, and a
working member of a committee. In my disgust I said :
" I always thought that a vote in political affairs was
withheld from woman because it is not desirable for her,
to come in contact with the common rabble lest her
purity be soiled. She should never descend into the
foul, dusty arena of the polling booth ; but here in
Tulane Hall where we are specially invited, in the re-
spectable presence of many good men — some of them
our ' natural protectors ' — it is not fair ; it is as unjust
as it would be for me to invite a party to dinner and
then to summon half of them to the table while the
other half are required to remain as spectators only of
the feast to which all had had the same call." After
that I attended no other meeting of the Educational So-
ciety, and requested my husband to discontinue paying
RUMORS OF OUR CIVIL WAR.
Mr. Merrick was elected chief-justice of the Su-
preme Court of Louisiana in the year of 1855. I went
with him to New Orleans for that winter and lived at
the old St. Louis hotel, taking my maid with me, but
leaving my children at home in the care of their grand-
mother. In a letter dated May 11th, 1856, my husband
writes : " I bought a house yesterday, at public auc-
tion, which I think will do very well for us, but it will
cost a good deal to make it as comfortable as our home
at Clinton. The property is in Bouligny, a little out
of the city, where we can keep our horses. There is a
plank road to the city and the railroad station will be
near the door. It is an old-fashionedFrench house built
upon brick walls and pillars, with a gallery in front and
rear. I send you a plan of it and a sketch of the situ-
ation. You will surely be pleased with the place after
it is 'arranged. I dined with Mr. Christian Roselius
yesterday and he congratulated me on the purchase ;
says it is delightful to live out of town. Bouligny
is in the city of Jefferson, almost half a mile above
Washington Street. There are six fireplaces in the
hou?e, and if Aunt Susan does not like any of those
large rooms below we will finish off one above or
Rumors of Our Civil War. 25
build one for her. The girls will go to school in the
city by the cars."
We had done some house-hunting the winter before,
and I was by no means sure I should like living out of
town. In his next letter Mr. Merrick said : " I do not
think you had better come down until you have some-
what recovered from your disappointment. I have read
your letter while my colleagues are reading opinions,
and now I take some of the precious time of the State
to try to console you. The more I see of the house and
its neighborhood the better I like it. You think it is an
isolated place up-town, still uninhabited. Well, in
twenty years everything will be different, and while I
have you and the children in the house, it will be all
right. Therefore, you must dry up your tears and be
It is evident that the home chosen was not such as
I should have selected; but a residence in it for nearly
half a century has made it very dear, filled as it is with
precious memories of those I have loved and lost. So
extensive are the surrounding grounds, abounding in
flowers, fruit-trees and gardens, that it has been called
"the Merrick Farm." Now that Napoleon Avenue is
built up with elegant residences, this large square with
its spacious, old-fashioned, double French cottage pre-
sents a comfortable, unique appearance in the midst of
its modern environment.
So, in November, 1856, I removed from Clinton to
New Orleans. In a letter written to Mr. Merrick dur-
ing the distresses of dismantling the old home, I said:
" If it please heaven to give us a long life I hope it may
26 Old Times in Dixie Land.
never be our misfortune to move many times." Heav-
en seemed to have been propitious to my wish, for here
I am in the same loved home, chosen without my con-
sent, but where I expect to fold my willing hands and be
made ready for my final resting place.
I do not enter upon the subject of the civil war with
a disposition either to justify or condemn; and it is
with reluctance that I revert to a question that has been
settled forever by fire and blood, and whose adjustment
has been accepted even by the vanquished. But as this
period came so vitally into my life, these recollections
would be incomplete without it; besides, personal rec-
ords are the side-lights of history and, in their measure,
the truest pictures of the times. Years enough have
elapsed to make a trustworthy historical perspective,
and intelligent Americans should now be able to look
upon the saddest war that ever desolated a land without
favor or prejudice and to use conditions so severely
cleared of the great evil of slavery as stepping-stones to
our freedom from all further national mischief.
It must be remembered that the South was not a unit
in regard to secession. The Southwest was largely a
Whig area, and in the election of 1860 this element
voted for Bell and Everett under the standard : " The
Union, the Constitution and the Enforcement of Law."
It has always been a question whether secession would
have carried could it have been put to the test of a popu-
lar vote in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas and
Tennessee; for whatever may have been personally be-
lieved respecting the right of secession, it is probable the
majority of Whigs and some Democrats doubted its
Rumors of Our Civil War. 27
expediency. The most solemn, heart-breaking hour
in the history of the States was that in which men,
shaken with sobs, signed the ordinance which severed
them from the Union. Up to that hour the fight by
the press had been bitter. But when the fate of the
State, was sealed, the Stars and Stripes lowered and the
State flag run up in its place, almost every man, irre-
spective of opinions, accepted its destinies, shouldered
his musket and marched to the front — where he stayed
until a bullet, sickness or starvation emptied his place
in the ranks, or until the surrender of Lee at Ap-
Many Southern men said : " Never give up the
United States flag; let us settle our difficulties under
it." On a Fourth of July one of our neighbors illu-
minated his house and decorated it with that flag. He
was entirely unmolested. We were kinder in that in-
stance to Union people among us than the Yankees
sometimes were to " copperhead traitors " at the
North. A very few Union men among us went over
the other side of the Mason and Dixon line ; a few more
remained quietly at home, under great stress of public
opinion, but gave of their substance, and usually their
sons, to the Confederate cause. General Banks said,
in his occupation of the city, " I could put all the
Union men in New Orleans in one omnibus."
This was a season of great anxiety and perplexity.
After the war became inevitable it miay be said that no
woman wavered in her allegiance to the Southern
cause. Our boys clamored to be allowed to enlist.
From Northern relatives came letters wailing: "The
28 Old Times in Dixie Land.
war cry is abroad; blood is to be spilled, the nation
is to be involved in the bitterest of all wars. It may
be that your son, David, and one of my boys may meet
in deadly conflict. And when we have cut each other's
throats, destroyed commerce, ruined cities, demoral-
ized the people, outraged humanity, what have we
gained ? Nothing ! nothing ! Would to God that some
Washington might arise and stay the deadly strife,
save the country from shame and disgrace in the eyes
of the world."
On the other side was asserted: "We have nothing
else to do but to fight. No door is open to us. Our
position as freemen, our all is at stake. Without
slavery the best sugar plantation in Louisiana would
be worthless. The British thought our forefathers
were wrong. We have ten times the cause for revolt
which they had. Constitutional rights are invaded.
We shall and must succeed."
Our son David, then in his seventeenth year, was at
Centenary College, La., when hostilities began. As he
saw his comrades leaving in order to join the army he
became very impatient to do likewise. In a letter of
April 26, 1861, replying to his urgings, I wrote : " I
know you will not think us unkind in asking you to
continue your college duties. You have ever been true
and filial without having it exacted. Persist in these
relations, my dear boy. Write us freely and tell us in
perfect confidence whatever you think and feel. Do
not act hastily. We do not refuse your request but
wish you to wait for further advice. You have no wife
and children,, but you have parents and sisters to fight
Rumors of Our Civil War. 29
for (I don't count little Eddie). I know you are
patriotic and are willing to make sacrifices for the sake
of your country, but you must learn much before you
go into the army.
" 27th. afternoon. — Father has come in and says
Vice-President Alexander Stephens writes to President
Davis that there are plenty of men — as many soldiers
as are now wanted; and this is good news. With
Virginia added to the Southern Confederacy we ought
to carry the day. It is a pity the border States are so
dilatory. Try to be content where you are until your
turn comes. Your father says it will come, sure and
fast, and you know his judgment is infallible. Last
night I went to the Military Fair for the benefit of the
War is the same the world over, and the women are
always heroically bearing their share of its responsibil-
ities. I see it announced in this morning's paper
(January 1st, 1900) that Adelina Patti and the Duch-
ess of Marlborough are to appear at an entertainment
at Covent Garden in aid of the English fund for offi-
cers' wives and families, called for by the present war
in South Africa. It has been noted that after the
States seceded a Union woman could not be found in
the entire South. However that may be, I am told on
authority that while Jackson, Miss., was burning and
being pillaged by troops whose horses were festooned
with women's clothes, General Sherman was appealed
to by a Southern woman. " Well, madam," said he,
" don't you know that the Southern women and the
Methodist Church North are keeping up this war.?"
30 Old Times in Dixie Land.
On June 1st, 1861, I find in one of my letters to my
brother : " David is at home. We are willing to give
him to our country. His father spares no trouble or
expense to fit him for a soldier's duty. He has a drill-
master who instructs him in military science during
the day, and drills him with the ' State Eights Guards '
every night. This Frenchman, whose name I cannot
spell, says in two weeks more he will be equal to a
captain's duties; but his father says he must under-
stand the movements of a brigade, battalion and regi-
ment, as well as that of company drill; he must know
something and become qualified for everything; so I
think he wishes him to have a commission. He is the
sole representative of our immediate family. I fear
for him, his youth is against him — he should be twenty-
one instead of seventeen — though this will not dis-
qualify him in the volunteer service if he is competent.
He will go whenever called."
Thus my young son left me for the army in Virginia
where he served until incapacitated by an extraordi-
nary wound through the head received at Seven Pines
while a member of the staff of Gen. Leroy Stafford.
After this my brother went into an artillery com-
pany as first lieutenant, and I went to the Myrtle
Grove plantation to take leave of him. It was during
my temporary absence that New Orleans fell into Fed-
eral possession, which fact caused me to spend the whole
period of the war with my family on the Atehafalaya
river at this plantation, having ouly occasional visits
from my husband, who found it necessary to take the
greater portion of his slaves to a safer place in another
Rumors of Our Civil War. 31
part of the state. His own liberty was also threat-
ened, and since one of his colleagues, Judge Voorhies,
had been taken prisoner and detained away from his
family and official business, it was desirable that Judge
Merrick should incur no such risk.
When Louisiana seceded from the Union many
thought that no blood would be spilled; that the Yan-
kees would not fight, and would never learn to bear
arms. But this was not Mr. Merrick's opinion, nor
that of many others. The men we called Yankees had
fought bravely for their own independence and gained
it, and they would fight if necessary again; we should
see our soil dug up and earthworks made on our own
I left my New Orleans home furnished with every
comfort, but have never since seen it in that perfect
condition. Under General Ben Butler, a public sale
was made of the contents of the dwelling, stables and
outhouses for the benefit of the United States. Mrs.
J. Q. A. Fellows told me she counted thirteen wagon
loads of furniture taken out, and had she known me
then as she afterwards did, she would have saved many
valuable things for me. I owned an excellent miscella-
neous library, a new piano, valuable carriages, pictures,
china and cut glass — the acquisition of twenty-five
years, belonging to me personally who had done noth-
ing to bring on the hostilities between the sections. 1
was informed that my carriage was appropriated by
a Federal officer for his own use.
It was not long before the predictions of my husband
were realized by General Banks' invading our retreat
32 Old Times in Dixie Land.
with the purpose of investing Port Hudson in the rear,
Farragut meanwhile was trying to force a passage past
its guns on the Mississippi river. While Gen. Banks'
command was in transit we were in daily and hourly con-
tact with the troops. When Brig.-Gen. Grover ascer-
tained that my household consisted of women alone, he
had his tent pitched very near the dwelling, inform-
ing me himself that he did this to secure our safety, and
assuring me that we should be unmolested inside the
enclosure of cur dooryard and the lawn bordering in
front on the Atchafalaya river. To this end three men
were detailed to act as a guard. I had then a family
consisting of two daughters, Laura and Clara, their
baby brother Edwin and the two Misses Chalfant and
Miss Little, who were my guests for a long time.
We were abundantly furnished with the necessaries
of life, and had a bountiful supply of vegetables besides
the products of our dairy and poultry yard. Lacking
new books to read and mail to bring us letters, news-
papers or magazines, there yet came into our lives an
intenser interest in what was before us so constantly —
this war between the North and the South ; and in one
way or another everybody, white and black, man, wo-
man and child, took a more or less active part in carry-
ing it on.
A letter from Mrs. Mary Wall gives the following:
" I hear my son Benjamin has gone to the war, Willie
too, and Bowman has joined the ' Hunter Rifles.'
There is nothing talked of here but war. God help me,
but it is hard ! I nursed these boys and they are part
of myself; life would be utterly barren without them.
Rumors of Our Civil War. 33
But I cannot keep them, nor say a word to stay them
from defending their country; but I think it will kill
me. I should be better off without children in this
" What do you think the North intends ? Is it to be
a war of extermination? Have you read Helper's
book ? He says, ' Go out of the Union to-day and we
will scourge you back to-morrow, and make the banks
of the Mississippi one vast sepulchre, but you shall
give up your slaves/
" Christians ought to pray constantly that the great
Omnipotent may help us. We cannot fathom God's
plans. I am ready to let my negroes go if the way
opens, but I do not see that it is my duty to set them
free right here and now, though the time may be ap-
proaching for them to emerge from their captivity.
God's will is just and good. Oh for perfect reliance
on His promises to all who love and serve Him ! "
Those who were a part of ante-bellum affairs will
remember how earnestly serious-minded and conscien-
tious slaveholders discussed the possibility of gradual
emancipation as advocated by Henry Clay. The ne-
groes were in their possession by inheritance and by the
customs and laws of the land in which they were born.
The slaves were not only a property which had come
to them as a birthright, but also a responsibility which
could not be laid aside except in a manner that would
secure the future good of the slave, with proper consid-
eration for what was justly due the master and his
posterity in the settlement of the great question. If
politicians on both sides, who cared more for party
34 Old Times in Dixie Land.
control and for the money value of a negro than for
the nation's good, could have been ordered to the rear,
there is little doubt but that slaveholder and abolition-
ist and the great American people could have been
brought to weigh the subject together on its own merits,
and slavery might have been abolished to the satisfac-
tion of North and South by law instead of in a cata-
clysm of blood.
Those were anxious days when families were left
without their male protectors and we women had only
ourselves and our young children in our disquieted
homes. Yet we were cheerful and marvelously com-
forted, drawing nearer day by day to the Almighty
Father, and sleeping the sleep of the just, though often
awakened by the sound of guns and to the sight of
Federal blue-coats drawn up in battle-line with gleam-
ing bayonets. There was fasting and prayer every-
where during all the long struggle. The most pathetic
sight was thousands of women, children and slaves,
with the few non-combatant men the army had spared,
on their knees in daily union prayer-meetings, at sun-
rise or sunset, before the God of Battles.
Each of us sympathized with the words of Lizzie
Dowdell, writing in May, 1861: " 1 do believe the Lord
is on our side. If we fail, God have mercy on the world
— for the sem'blance of human liberty will have fled.
The enemy has men, money, horses and chariots; they
are strong and boastful. Our sins may be flagrant, and
we may need to be scourged with scorpions; but will
God permit us to be overwhelmed ? " Both sides re-
ferred their case to the Court of Heaven — as the
Rumors of Our Civil War. 35
assaulted Boers are doing to-day. If they sink be-
neath the unlimited re-sources of the British, will the
triumph of might now be the triumph of right and of
human liberties? Three and one-half decades have
softened the shadow of prejudice and the high lights of
self-interest. It is well for the whole nation that sla-
very has been abolished and the Union preserved. How
much loss will be revealed by time in the sacrifices of
the rights of States against Federal encroachment, is
a problem for future statesmanship. But it is certain
to-day that the moral loss to the United States by the
civil war will not be recovered in fifty years; while the
baneful corruption of public sentiment and the ruling
Administration, by reason of the late Spanish-Ameri-
can conflict, is sufficiently apparent to send every
Christian to his knees,, or to the ballot-box — the only
worldly corrector of political wrongs.
We set a second table for our guard. One middle-
aged man named Peter, a very young German and an-
other — all foreigners — made up the trio. I had every
delicacy within my reach provided for them, and in-
sisted that my young ladies should see that the table
was arranged tastefully, enjoining it on them that they
should respond politely whenever they were spoken to.
The young German on entering the yard stooped and
pulled a rose which he gaily pinned on his coat.
" See," said one of the girls at the window, " that mean
Yankee is taking our flowers ! " " It is a good sign,"
I replied, "that he will never do us any greater harm.
He has a kind expression on his blond young face and
in his honest blue eyes;" and this fair-faced boy
36 Old Times in Dixie Land.
proved a valuable protector on many occasions. He had
learned his English in the army and to our horror was
terribly addicted to profanity. Instead of the ordi-
nary response to one of our remarks he would come out
with " The hell, you say ! " even when spoken to by one
of the girls. Nevertheless when at last these faithful
enemy-friends took up their line of march, we were
friendly enemies, and regretfully saw them depart.
MY DAUGHTER LAURA'S DIARY.
From my daughter Laura's diary, May 21st, 1863,
let me quote : " The Yankees have been passing this
house all day, regiment after regiment on their way to
attack Port Hudson. Two transports have also gone
by on the river crowded with soldiers. Heaven pro-
tect our beleaguered men — so few against so many ! A
Lieutenant Francis was perfectly radiant this morning
because a boat was waiting to take his regiment (the
6th New York) North, as their time is out. He was
very cordial, perhaps because he has a brother in the
" A Dutch cavalry sergeant lingered, and for half an
hour stood guard, with his drawn sword keeping away
many of the vandals. He claimed to belong to the regu-
lar United States army and said his time would be up in
four months when he should return ' to de f aderland,"
but he thought they would ' vip ' us at Port Hudson.
When a negro and a white man came together through
the backyard for water from the cistern, with horrible
oaths and imprecations he drew his sword and with the
back of it struck the negro and ordered them both to
leave. ' You nigger,' said he, ' you hab no peesnis to
enter de blantation ! ve don' vant you ! you steals ebery-
38 Old Times in Dixie Land.
ting ! ' I am sorry for the poor deluded negroes who
flock after this army.
" We were all in the parlor this evening when five
Yankee quartermasters came in out of the rain. ' Old
Specs/ as we call him, was among the number. They
introduced each other and then very pressingly re-
quested me to play the ' Bonnie Blue Flag.' At last I
complied and began to sing, though it nearly kills me
to be polite to the Yanks :
" ' As long as the union was faithful to her trust,
Like friends and like brothers we were kind, we were
But now that Northern treachery '
" Here I broke down, and bursting into tears, left the
room with my handkerchief to my eyes. They then
expressed sorrow that my feelings should have been so
disturbed and sent Clara to ask me to come back.
She begged so, I dried my tears and returned. Two
of them engaged in a discussion with me. One said:
' The secession vote in Louisiana was controlled and
indicated nothing.' ' In all true republican govern-
ments,' I answered, ' the voice of the people is the voice
of God; we do not live under an aristocracy or a mon-
archy.' ' But,' said the man, ' two-thirds of the people
were not permitted to vote; your negroes did not go to
the polls.' ' They are not freemen,' I replied — ( but
being a woman I know nothing ' — and again the tears
rushed to my eyes. 'Thereupon, one of them, Capt.
Ives, joined in, saying : ( The masters voted for the
negroes of course, and,' he continued, ' it is not fair —
My Daughter Laura's Diary. 39
two gentlemen against one lady. I take the lady's
part.' Then in a lower tone, but a perfectly audible
one, he said : ' For God's sake talk of something else
besides the Union and the Confederacy. I'm sick of
" Mrs. Phillips, with Mrs. French, our neighbor,
went down to headquarters to ask Gen. Banks for a
guard. She reports that he said he would give her
none, for it was the women who had brought on and
now encouraged the war. Mrs. French said she only
wished to be protected from insult, and from hearing
such frightful prof anity. ' Madam,' said he, ' this
war is enough to make any man swear. I swear my-
self.' ' But/ said she, ' I wish to spare my Christian
mother, who is aged and infirm.' ' Well/ said Gen.
Banks, c I can't make her young.' When she told us
about it I replied : ' Banks is nearly as much of a
brute as Butler himself.'
"Tues. May 22, 1863.— Capt. Callender of Weit-
zel's staff and Capt. Hall of Emory's came last night
to inquire if the soldiers troubled us. They were very
polite and spoke so kindly that they reminded us of
Southerners. It is a pity to see such perfect gentle-
men in such an army. They offered us a guard which
I declined, telling them we were Southerners, so not
afraid; for it galls me to be obliged to have Yankee
protection. Mother has been so worried since, and
Clara reproached me so severely for refusing the guard
that I have wished I had done differently, and I was
glad when the overseer's big dog came and lay down
before our door. I thought it was a special providence.
40 Old Times in Dixie Land.
We have always heard Gen. Weitzel well spoken of;
he evidently has men like himself on his staff.
" Monday, May 25, 1863. — Saturday evening our
hopes of Gen. Kirby Smith being able to detain Gen.
Weitzel were clashed to the ground. Two Yankees
said they were all safe at Simmsport except two hun-
dred cavalry captured by our boys; but their rear had
been much worried. One of these Yankees was sick
and asked permission to lie on our front gallery.
Mother brought him some cold mint-tea which he at
first declined, but when he saw her taste it he changed
his mind and drank it. The man said afterward he
was afraid she wanted to poison him till he saw her
take a spoonful. Then she brought out a big arm-
chair and pillows and made him as comfortable as she
could. He was grateful, and stated that he was only
doing his duty righting for the old flag.
" One afternoon Sallie Miller rode past, with a
Yankee officer. Shame on her! Two young lady
guests on their way to Bayou Goula saw her and were
indignant with any Southern girl who would ride with
a Yankee in the presence of their army.
" Yesterday a quartermaster drove into the lot,
breaking the gate which was locked, and going to the
corn-crib. At the instance of the Missouri Yankee,
propped up in the rocking-chair, we all ran out to the
lot, and mother talked so to him, Clara and I assisting
volubly, that he agreed to take only two wagon loads
of the corn. He seemed actually ashamed for break-
ing our fence, and we were just in time to save the crib
door by giving him the key. .
My Daughter Laura's Diary. 41
" We saw some soldiers driving our cattle and milch
cows and calves from a field. ' What a shame ! ' said I.
A chaplain I suppose, dressed in a fine black suit, who
had come in to get water, replied : ' Our object, miss,
is to starve you out so that your brothers, husbands and
sons will quit fighting and come home to provide bread
for you. On what ground can you expect protection ? '
he asked my mother. * Is your husband a Union man ? '
1 No, indeed ! ' I struck in, ' he is a true Southerner.'
He saw a spur hanging up, and remarked that there
was a man about. Clara answered : ' It belongs to
my brother.' Then the man said : ' I won't ask where
he is, for you might be afraid to tell.' ' I am not
afraid,' replied Clara. ' You may know as well as I
that he is not here. He is in Virginia.'
" Mother remonstrated about her cows being driven
off to be slaughtered ; but seeing that it was useless ex-
claimed at last, * Well, take them all ! ' This was too
much for Asa Peabody, who seemed to be a friend to
our sick soldier; he informed the lieutenant in com-
mand that he was on guard by Gen. Weitzel's orders,
and intended nothing should be taken off the place ; and
he turned two of our best cows back into our front
" The men came continually to the cistern for drink-
ing water. Mother said : ' Let the water be free, I am
glad to have protection for some things, but the heavens
will send down more rain if the last drop is used.'
One of them observing some of the girls at the window,
drained his cup and taking off his cap to them shouted :
' Success to our cause !'• 'To ours ! ' I called back. ' No,'
42 Old Times in Dixie Land.
he said, ' I drink to the Union. I hope to get to Port
Hudson before it falls ! ' One impertinent fellow asked :
' Will you answer me one question, miss ! Who have
destroyed most of your property, Yankees or Eebels ? '
' The Yankees, of course,' I said. ' Well, yours is an
exceptional case/ he retorted. Oh ! I never saw so
many soldiers and so many cannon !
" Asa Peabody was reproved by our Missourian for
using profane language in the presence of ladies. He
answered very contritely, ' I'll be damned if I will do
so any more ! You are right.' He was a brave, good
man. We heard of his kindness to many women along
the march, and I hope our guerillas whom he so
dreaded — as anybody in the world would — did not get
him,, for he vowed he should ' keep his eyes peeled ' for
" In a recent bombardment at Port Hudson — when
the spectacle was sublime — an old negro woman said
she knew the world was coming to an end ' becaze de
white folks dun got so dey kin make lightnin'.'
"May 26, 1863. — A Yankee officer called yesterday
evening; said he belonged to the famous (infamous, I
say) Billy Wilson Zouaves, whose bad character is now
wholly undeserved. We were still in the parlor when
Col. Irwin, Asst.-Ad.-Gen., called, another officer with
him. We tried to be civil, but I deeply feel the humil-
iation of enforced association with this invading
enemy. However, Gen. Grover has been very consider-
ate since he knew we are a household of women. Two
wagon-masters came for corn and took what they
wanted, breaking open the crib. A chaplain, Mr.
My Daughter Laura's Diary. 43
Whiteman, very kindly took a note from mother to
Gen. Grover, and promised to intercede for her. The
General came immediately, and said nothing more
should be taken unless it was paid for. Mother de-
clared she would beg her bread before she would buy
it with their money; but I told her she had begged the
bread of the family, which already belonged to us, by
prayers and intercessions and tears enough to make it
very bitter food. Some of the quartermasters have,
since given her statements of what has been taken from
Myrtle Grove. ' Corn we must have/ said one man.
'but I will leave this untouched if you will tell me
where I can procure more on some other plantation.'
Mother then directed him to Tanglewood where father
had an immense quantity stored,, and from which place
the hands had all been moved into the interior, after
the large crop of cotton had been burned by our own
people. When this cotton on Tanglewood was burning
the negroes stood around crying bitterly; and father
and mother both call it t suicidal policy of the Confed-
erates ' to destroy the only f sinew of the war ' we have
which will bring outside cash to purchase arms and
other military supplies."
It should be related that when we heard of General
Banks' being at Simmsport my daughter Clara thought
we ought to send or go at once to his headquarters and
ask for protection. I find the following copy of a let-
ter which partly explains the safety accorded us by the
Federal army during the period recounted.
44 Old Times in Dixie Land.
"To Major General Banks, in Command of U. S.
Troops at Simmsport, La.
" I reside near the head of the Atchaf alaya where it
first flows out of Old Elver, and our male friends are
all absent. We are all natives of Louisiana, and, though
we cannot bid you welcome, we hope and trust we may
confide in your protection and in the generosity and
honor which belongs to United States officers.
" We have no valuable information to give, nor do
we think you would ask or require us to betray our own
people if we had it in our power. But we can promise
to act fairly and honorably, and to do nothing unwor-
thy the high character of Judge Merrick, who is the
head of this family. Therefore, we expect to prove
ourselves worthy of any generous forbearance you may
find it in your power to extend toward defenseless wo-
men and children, who appeal thus to your sympathy
and manhood; for
" ' No ceremony that to great one 'longs,
Not the King's crown, nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon, nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one-half so good a grace
As mercy does.'
e * Very respectfully,
" Caroline E. Merrick.''
The result of this letter, which I presented in person,
was the following pass :
My Daughter Laura's Diary. 45
" Headquarters, Department of the Gulf,
19th Army Corps,
Simmes' Plantation, May 19, 1863.
" Guards and Patriots :
"Pass Mr. Chalfant, Mrs. Merrick, and party, with
their carriages and drivers, to their homes, near the
head of the Atchafalaya.
"Richd. B. Irwin,
"A. A. General."
"Camp Clara, Jackson, Miss., May 31, 1863.— We
have good water and our men are improving, but many
are ill with typhoid fever" — thus my brother wrote.
" The sickness enlists my deepest sympathy. The
number of soldiers' graves is astonishing. From
morning until night negroes are constantly digging
them for instant use. General Lovell inspected our
battery the other day and said he wanted it down on
the river ; so just as soon as our horses arrive we are to
go to work. The men are well drilled, but we lack
horses and ammunition. I hear David's regiment is
at Petersburg, Va."
In Confederate times the people were patient under
the sickness in camp, and never a complaint was sent
to Richmond about poor food and bad water which
caused as many fatalities as powder and ball. Increased
knowledge and improved methods of camp sanitation
seem almost to justify the indignant protests against
embalmed beef and typhoid-breeding water that have
been heaped upon Congress and officers of the War
46 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Department in the late Spanish-American war. One
out of the four of my fathers great-grandsons who
enlisted for the Spanish-American struggle lost his
life in an unhealthy Florida camp before he could
be sent to Cuba. It is plain to every fair-minded
investigator that many of these fatalities were due to
a lack of those essentials in which every housekeeping
woman, by nature and training, is especially qualified.
It was a relief to the minds of the mothers of the na-
tion to learn that near the close of the late Cuban con-
flict a woman had been appointed on the National
Military Medical Commission. It is a woman's proper
vocation to care for the sick. Men who would exclude
women from the ballot-box on the plea that they only
who fight ought to vote, should remember Clara Bar-
ton and Florence Nightingale who have served armies
Elizabeth Barrett Browning said : " The nursing
movement is a revival of old virtues. Since the siege
of Troy and earlier we have had princesses binding
wounds with their hands. It is strictly the woman's
part, and men understand it so. Every man is on his
knees before ladies carrying lint; whereas if they stir
an inch as thinkers or artists from the beaten line (in-
volving more good to general humanity than is in-
volved in lint), the very same men would condemn the
audacity of the very same women."
A young naval officer, at my dinner table, once dis-
sented from such views which I had expressed, and of
which Bishop Warren of the M. E. Church had heartily
approved. "Until women," said this young officer,
My Daughter Laura's Diary. 47
" furnish this government for its defense with soldiers
and sailors from their own ranks they should be prohib-
ited from voting." " Dear sir," I replied, " how many
soldiers and sailors does this country now possess in its
active service whom the women have not already fur-
nished from their own ranks ? "
The young man yielded but was not convinced., even
when an eminent physician remarked that he had heard
many a young mother say that she would rather march
up to the cannon's mouth than to lie down to meet her
peculiar trial. He further stated that when their hour
came they were always full of courage, and, in his opin-
ion, their maternity ought to count for something to
them of great value in the government.
All men in an army do not fight. No more impor-
tant branch of the military service existed during the
civil war than that which the women of the Confed-
eracy controlled. They planted and gathered and
shipped the crops which fed the children and slaves
at home and the armies in the field; they raised the
wool and cotton that clothed the soldiers and the hogs
and cattle that made their meat; they spun and wove
the crude product into cloth for the home and the
army; their knitting needles clicked until the great
surrender, manufacturing all the socks and " sweat-
ers " and comforters which the Confederate soldier-
boys possessed — our nearly naked boys toward the
last, so often on the march called " Bagged Bebels."
.WAR-MEMORIES : HOW BECKY COLEMAN" WASHED HES-
TER whitefield's face.
Among the Federal vessels stationed at Red River
Landing was the Manhattan, commanded by Captain
Grafton, a high-minded officer as the following inci-
dent proves. A letter from Laura Ellen to her
brother David, dated at Myrtle Grove, records:
Stephen Brown, mother s head manager on this place,
has been very sick. Dr. Archer, who was stopping with
us all night, went to see him, and after an examination,
reported that he could do nothing to relieve him with-
out chloroform and surgical instruments, both of which
were inaccessible and out of the question; and he can-
didly told mother Stephen could not live twenty-four
hours without an operation. Mother, heart-broken and
in tears, begged the doctor to tell her to what means
she could resort to save so faithful a servant. The
doctor said they had everything needful on the Fed-
eral gunboats. Mother instantly determined to go to
Red River Landing and appeal for help ; but she wished
Dr. Archer to go with her and explain the case. He
objected, saying he had never held any communica-
tion with the enemy, and he did not wish to spoil his
War Memories. 49
record with the Confederates. But mother finally in-
duced him to accompany her.
" It seemed to us a forlorn hope. When she started
off with Dr. Archer, mother enjoined it upon us to have
the best dinner that we could prepare for the officers
who were to come back with her, which suggestion we
took the liberty of overlooking, as we did not dream
she could succeed in such an unheard-of undertaking.
When she reached the Mississippi and waved her hand-
kerchief, a tug came from the gunboat to the shore and
she asked to see the commanding officer. The tug
offered to take mother to the gunboat, but at first ob-
jected to the doctor going with her. Finally both
went, and were received on the deck of the big war-
ship. Captain Grafton said he feared that any sur-
geon or officer might be captured, and that he must
have a written guarantee against that possibility before
he could run such a risk. Mother told him that Cap-
tain Collins and his scouts were thirty miles distant;
she could only assure him that none who came to her
aid would be molested. Dr. Archer supported her
opinion; but the captain declined the adventure;
whereupon mother burst into tears. ' Captain Graf-
ton,' she said, ( I did not come here to teach you your
duty ; but I came to perform mine. Now if the negro's
life is not saved, his death will lie at your door, not
mine.' Capt. Grafton replied: e Madam, I don't like
you to put it that way ! ' Moved by that view or her
tears — he sent the tug for the captains of two other
gunboats, and the three held a council of war, finally
consenting that a surgeon with his assistants and the
50 Old Times in Dixie Land.
necessary equipments should have leave to go provided
he would himself assume the responsibility for his ab-
sence from the boat, for the military authorities would
make no order about it. Thus Dr. Mitchell first came
to Myrtle Grove on an errand of mercy.
" None was more surprised than mother herself
when Dr. H. W. Mitchell, surgeon of the Manhattan,
offered to go with her. It had been eight months
since these Federal naval attaches had set foot on land,
and apparently they greatly enjoyed the long drive
with only a handkerchief for a flag of truce floating
from the carriage window. The doctor went to the
' Quarters ' to see Stephen, and mother flew to the
kitchen and dining-room to put forth her rare culinary
skill in compensation for our negligence. After dinner
we had music, and Dr. Mitchell sang us many new
songs, and proved to be very intelligent, entertain-
ing and agreeable. I treated him well, too, as I
was bound to do after his kindness. At dinner I had
on a homespun dress trimmed with black velvet and
Pelican buttons: when they went away I even gave the
doctor my hand, 'though always before I had refused to
shake hands with a single one of them. Not for any-
thing on earth ' would I have done as much pre-
During the many months that the TJ. S. gunboat
Manhattan remained at Eed Eiver Landing, I saw the
officers from time to time, and once a crevasse detained
Dr. Mitchell for three days in our home. The friend-
ship thus established has outlived the war and proved
a source of great pleasure to me; while the sympathy
War Memories. 51
the doctor so kindly extended later, during the bitter
reconstruction days, was a solid satisfaction and com-
fort, for his cultured and experienced mind compre-
hended both sides of the situation. Devoted to the
Union, he yet expressed no inordinate desire to extermi-
nate the South, and never said he would be glad to
hang Jefferson Davis. He writes July 30, 1865 : " We
are all Americans. We speak one language; our flag
is the same ; we are citizens of the United States. It is
the right spirit to recognize no section. If all should
uphold the Government faithfully under which we en-
joy so many blessings, internal strife in the future will
" Mother says," the diary continues, " let an army be
friend or foe, it takes everything it needs for its subsist-
ence on the march, and starvation is in its track. Brig.-
Gen. Grover's Division camped for two weeks on this
plantation, and the General's own tent was pitched next;
to our side gate. When some of his staff were here vis-
iting, one of them took baby Edwin in his arms and
kissed him. After they had gone I scolded him for
kissing a Yankee, and said I was going to tell his
' Marse Dadles ! ' He began to cry and sobbed out,, '
Sissy, he was a good Yankee ! ' They rob the corn-cribs,
so it is well they carry off the negroes too. Ours, how-
ever, will not go; they have made no preparation to de-
part, and mother interviews them daily on the subject,
but leaves them to decide whether they will ' silently
steal away/ which is their method of disappearing.
Mr. Barbre's negroes have all gone except two, and Mr.
52 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Chalfant's and Mrs. French's are preparing to go, so
our neighbors are generally upset."
In a letter of an earlier date Laura Ellen gives an
account of Mr. Chalfant coming to me and asking ad-
vice as to how the slaves could be prevented from fol-
lowing the army. I had wanted to know of my neighbor
if his negroes would take his word on the subject. If
so, he might state to them that they might be free just
where they were — that it was not necessary they should
leave their homes, their little children, their household
effects, tools and other " belongings " which could not
be carried on the march (to say nothing of the hogs-
head of sugar nearly all of them had in their cabins),
their poultry, dogs, cows and horses. If it were can-
didly explained to them that their freedom was to be a
certainty, and that they might be hired to work by their
old owners, doubtless many would be convinced of the
wisdom of remaining at home and taking their chances
■ — all would depend on the confidence the negro had in
the master — but they should, in all cases, be left to
make their own decision — whether to go or stay. Some
of the people who could read should be shown the news-
papers, left by the Yankees, wherein it is urged upon
the government to put the black men into the army.
This should be read to them by one of their own color.
After hearing these views Mr. Chalfant was reported
having said: "Mrs. Merrick has more sense about
managing the negroes than any man on the river."
However that may have been, our slaves remained
on the place, and many of them and their descendants
are yet in the employ of the family. It was considered
War Memories. 53
%• some persons to be treason to the Confederacy to
speak of the freedom of the slaves in their presence, as
if refusal to acknowledge the emancipation act would
avert its going into effect.
This attitude towards their liberty destroyed all con-
fidence in the master's advice, and so his negroes left
him. It was several years before the emancipation of
the slave was universally effected, there being secluded
places into which the news of freedom percolated slowly,
and where slavery existed for some time uninterrupted.
In following the army parents often abandoned young
children. These were given to anybody who would
burden themselves with their care. In many cases the
natural guardian never again appeared, and these 'aban-
doned ones were practically bond-servants until they
learned how to be free of themselves.
Careworn and anxious as we were waiting news of
our loved ones in the field and of the cause in which we
had risked our all, we were too busy to be sad. Tele-
graphic communication with the center of war was often
cut off for many days. During these agonizing, silent
seasons the women drew nearer together, and kept
busy scraping lint for the hospitals and converting
every woolen dress and every yard of carpet left in the
house into shirts and bedding for our boys at the front.
We varied the labor of managing plantations with every
species of bazaar, supper, candy-pulling and tableaux
that would raise a dollar for the army. Then we got
all the entertainment we could out of our daily domestic
round, as I did out of Becky Coleman, one of my old
servants who occasionally relieved the monotony of her
54 Old Times in Dixie Land.
"daily round" by coming "to 'nquire 'bout de white
folks." It was October when she made one of these
visits, but summer reigned in earth and sky. A noble
avenue of black walnuts completely shaded one side of
my Myrtle Grove house. The large green nuts were
beginning to ripen, for when a branch swayed in the
wind one would drop from time to time with such a
resounding thump upon the ground that it was a mat-
ter for satisfaction when Becky seated herself on the
steps of the porch without having encountered a thwack
on her head from the missile-dealing trees.
" I hear singing over in the woods," said I to Becky.
"Why are you not at the meeting this evening?"'
" Who ? me ? eh — eh — but may be yo don' kno' I
dun got my satisfacshun down dar a while ago. I'm
better off at home. Hester done got me convinced.
Lemme tell you how 'twas. One Sunday ebenin' I
heard tell dar wurs gwine to be er sort er 'sperienee
praar-meeting down to ole Unk Spencer's house, en es
'twan't fer, I jes' tuk my foot in my han' ! I did, en I
" Well, ev'rything was gwine on reg'lar, en peace-
able, widout no kin' er animosity, plum till dey riz up
to sing de very las' liime. De preacher who wus er
leadin' got up den en tuk up de Jiime book en gin out :
' ' ' Ermazin' grace how sweet de soun'
In de beleever's year ! '
" Now, yo knows yo'sef dey ain't nothin' tall incitin'
'bout dat ar' chime : you knows it; en as fer me, I was
jes' dar er stanin' up wid de res', wid my mouf open,
War Memories. 55
jes' er singin' fer dear life, never dreamin' 'bout nothin'
happ'nin', when heah cum Hester Whitfiel' — coming
catter-corner 'cross from de yuther side er de house,
wid her han' h'isted up in de aar, en I 'clar fo' de Lawd,
she hit me er clip rite in my lef eye, en mos' busted it
clean outen my haid. It cum so onexpectedlike dat
leetle mo'en I would er drap in de flo'. I jes' felt like
I wus shot ! Den she had er pa'cel er big brass rings
on her han', en dey cut rite inter my meat !
" I tell yo', ma'am, I was hurted, I jes' seed stars,
I did ! so I up en tole her : ' 'Oman, ef yo got enny-
thing 'g'inst me, why don't you come out in de big road
en gimme er fair fight? Fer G-awd-elmighty's sake
don' go en make 'ten' like yo happy, en bus' my eye
open dis heah way.' Says I, "Ligion ain't got nuthin'
ter do wid no sich 'havoir; I don' see no Holy Sperit
'bout it/ says I. ' 'Twas jes' de nachul ole saturn what
mak' yo' do dat, en I jes knows it,' says I. "Ligion
don' make nobody hurt nothin',' says I. Yo reads de
Book, Miss Calline, en yo knows I'm speakin' de sal-
vashun truf e, now ain't I ?
"Den all de folks cum crowdin' 'roun' en gethered
a holt uv us, en ef dey hadn't, I lay I woulder stretched
her out dar in de flo', fer I'm de bes' 'oman — er long
ways — en I would er had lier convinced in no time.
But dey all tu'ned in en baig me ter look over it, be-
in' es how it happen in meetin'-time ; but I tell yo,
ma-am, I never look nowhars wid dat eye fer mor'n
free weeks. Why, it wus so swole up en sore, I jes'
had ter bandage it wid sassyfras .peth and wid slippery
ellum poultices day en night, en my eye wus dat red, en
56 Old Times in Dixie Land.
bloodshottened, dat I never 'speeted to see daylight outen
it no mo' ; en I clar' f o' de Lawd it ain't got rite na'chul
till yit !
" No longer'n dis very ebenin my ole man, Tom,
says ter me : ' I dun seed nuff trouble wid yo, Beck.
You needs dembig pop eyes er yone to patch my close,
en wuk wid, en I ain't er gwine to hev no bline 'ornan
rown' me,' says he; 'en I let yo know fruni dis out yo
don't go ter no mo' praar-meetin's, 'zaminashuns er
what-cher-callums ; dat's de long en short uv it ! ' says
he. ' Ef you ain' got sense nun 5 ter stay away f rum
dar,' says he, ' I'll insense yo wid my fis'.' I knows de
weight er dat han' er hisen, en I'm gwine min' him dis
time, ennyhow ; " and Becky pointed toward the cabin
from whence the sound of singing was wafted on the
breeze, saying, " Yes'um, I'm gwine stay away f rum
dar, fer er f ac' !"'
" Becky, is such an incident common at your prayer-
meetings ? " I inquired.
" Why, no, ma'am, nuthin' like dat never happen to
me befo'; yit, I 'members mighty well when Betsy
Washin'ton cum thoo' — 'fo' she jined de chu'ch. 'Twas
in de meetin'-house, but yo couldn't onerstan' one
single wud de preacher wus er sayin', fer she wus jes'
er shoutin' es loud es she could fer who las' de longes'
— en I onertuk, fool like, to hole her; fer she wus in
sich a swivit, we wus feared she'd brek loose en go inter
a reg'lar hard fit, so I jes' grabbed good holt er de
'oman, 'roun' de wais', es she wus er hollerin', en er
jumpin'; en when she felt de grip I fotch on her, she
tu'n 'roun', she did, en gethered my sleeve in 'tween her
War Memories. 57
fingers (en she is jes' es strong es enny mule), en
shore's yore settin' dar in dat air big cheer,, en I'm
er stannin' heah, talkin' ter yer, she gin me one single
jerk, en I 'clar ter Gawd, she tore my whole sleeve outen
de arm-hole, en ripped er big slit clean "cross my coat
body ! Why I jes' thought de 'oman wus gwine ter
strip me start naiked, rite dar in de meetin'-house ! I
got dat shame I jes' let er go, I did, en den went per-
usin' roun' 'mongst de wimmin en borryd er shawl ter
kiver me up ; en den I moved on todes home.
" But I mus' let yo know de nex' time I met up wid
Betsy, I washed her face good wid what she dun. I jes'
tole her de nex' time she got ter shoutin' 'roun' me
she mout bre'k her neck — I wan't gwine hole her, I
wan't gwine tech her ; ' f er,' says I, ' yo done gone
en 'stroyed de bes' Sunday dress I got, yo is dat,' says
I, < f er er f ac' ! '
" Den Betsy 'lowed she didn't keer, en dat she didn't
know what she wus er doin', but I tuk mighty good
notice she never made no motion to grab onter Aunt
Sally Brown's co'se homespun gown when she tuk er
tu'n er hol'in uv her. But uv co'se, I heap ruther hev
my close tore dan to hev my eye busted out. But dey
ain't no need er airy one bein' done; en I tole her so,
I did dat. ' Sholey Christians/ say I, ' kin 'joy der-
sef widout hurtin' nobody, neither tarin' der close ! '
I up en axed her ef she eber knowed de white folks in
de big house karyin' on datterway, en ef she eber seed
Miss Marthy er Miss Eeeny er cuttin' up like dat in de
white folks' meetin'-house? Well, she jes' bust out er>
58 Old Times in Dixie Land.
laffiin' in my face at dat, en she 'lowed niggahs wan't
like white folks nohow.
" ' I knows better'n dat,' says I. ' Fer Gawd made
us all outen de dus' er de groun', bofe de white en de
black;' en, Miss Calline, yo' ma uster tell me ef I
'haved mysef, en kep' mysef clean, en never tole no
lies, ner 'sturb yuther folks' things, I wus good es enny-
body, en I b'lieves it till yit; dat's de salvashun trufe,
I'm tellin', white 'oman, it sholey is!
" But den Betsy got mad, she did, en gin me er push,
— we wus walkin' 'long de top er de levee — en I wus so
aggervated dat I cum back at 'er wid er knock dat made
her roll down smack inter de gully. Den she hollered so
de men fishin' unner de river bank cum er runnin'.
She had don' sprain her wris', en ef her arm had been
broke she cudn't er made no mo' fuss. Lemme tell
yo de trufe ! de very nex' Sunday dey tu'ned us bofe
outen de chu'ch case we fit, en I cayn't go to praar-
meetin' tell I done jine ergin."
" Well, Becky, you've made me forget there is a war
and Yankee raids, and I reckon I'll have to give you a
cup of store-coffee for doing it."
" Thanky, Miss Calline ! I'll be powerful 'bliged ter
yo'; en I mus' be er movin', en pa'ch dis heah coffee
fer my ole mammy's supper, fer she's gittin' monshus
tired of tea off dem tater chips what we has ter drink
WAR MEMORIES : THE STORY OF PATSY'S GARDEN".
Our vision of the outside world of human affairs
was very narrow and circumscribed in those war-times,
and my seminary of five young girls was often a victim
to ennui. No weekly mail, no books, no music, no new
gowns from one year's end to another.
The only vital question was : z ' What is the war
news ? " There were also no coffee, no loaf-sugar, no
lemons in the house. However, with plenty of milk,
eggs and butter, fresh fruit and vegetables, to say noth-
ing of fowls galore, we survived. The girls made cake
and candy, so with the abundance of open-kettle brown
sugar, we diversified our daily menu with many sweet
The one unfailing source of pleasure was the garden.
True, the army at Morganza would send out a raid
every fortnight, when fences were broken down and des-
troyed: then the cows and other cattle would get in
and partake of our lettuce and cabbages. But we never
gave up ; the negroes would drive the marauding cattle
out and rebuild the fences every time they were des-
troyed. On one of these occasions I heard Miss Emma
Chalf ant say to Uncle Primus : " I shall tell on you
when your people come back here; I heard you curse
60 Old Times in Dixie Land.
and swear at Mrs. Merrick's cows this morning — and
you call yourself a preacher, too ! " " Dese cows and
dese Yankees is 'nuff to make ennyhody cuss, Miss
Emma/' said the negro, as he went along snapping his
long whip as he drove the poor animals away from the
Here I am tempted to give the true story of Martha
Benton. This girl became positively exhilarated under
the influence of perfume and flowers. The delectable
odor of Sweet Olive — a mingled essence of peach,
pineapple, and orange-flower — produced in her a frenzy
of delight. She had been introduced to the exotic
floral world by the proprietor of a fine garden where
she frequently visited.
Her father could not understand his daughter's de-
light in the contemplation of Nature's beauty; for, as
far as these things were concerned, he was afflicted with
a total blindness worse than a loss of actual sight. Mr.
Benton was fond of fruit but he never noticed or ad-
mired the flowers from which the fruit was formed.
Nevertheless, he seemed pleased that his neighbor, Mr.
Thornton, should be interested in his daughter, and
take pleasure in talking with her about his rare plants.
" Miss Patsy," said Mr. Thornton, " it requires tact
and perseverance to grow a perfect lily."
" I could do it if I had the bulbs," said the girl.
At the close of the interview, a dozen bulbs and an
extensive package of plants were put in the carriage
for the young lady to take home, as a compliment to
her interest in his favorite pursuit.
Mr. Benton's front door-yard was given over to his
War Memories. 61
horses, and sometimes the calves were allowed to share
in the rich pasturage it furnished. Several ancient
cedar trees, ragged and untrimmed, and two thrifty
oaks stood on what should have been a lawn, and a
straggling . row of pomegranates grew along the line
of fence on one side, apparently in defiance of cattle
and all other exterminating influences.
On her return home, Patsy displayed her treasures
to her mother, and was enthusiastic over her floral
" Papa," said she, " you must give me space in the
vegetable garden for the present, and Tom must pre-
pare the ground/'
" It is perfect foolishness," said Mr. Benton. " Old
Thornton is such a« stuck-up old goose that I hated to
make him mad, otherwise I should not have brought
these things home with me. The truth is I would not
swap a row of cotton-plants in my field for everything
that old man has got in all his grounds and greenhouses
" father, everything he has is so beautiful ! " said
Patsy. " The summer-houses are like fairy-land, all
covered over with roses and vines."
"You keep cool, Pat, and don't set your head on
having a flower-garden. Your mother was just like
you when I married her. The first thing she did was
to set out some rose bushes in the front yard. Soon
after she took sick and they all died, and she herself
came mighty near doing the same thing; so she gave
up the whole business, like a sensible woman. Tom is
hoeing potatoes just now, and you must not call him
62 Old Times in Dixie Land.
from his work to plant this truck, which is of no ac-
count anyway. You'd better fling it all in the river.
It would be far better than to go out on the damp
ground wasting your time and labor."
" No, indeed/' said Patsy, who had the dauntless
energy of a true gardener ; " I shall plant them my-
self — every one ! "
She did so, and her treasures made themselves at
home in the rich, mellow soil, and throve wonderfully
in response to her careful tending. In a short time
she gathered roses and violets, and her golden-banded
lilies shot up several tall stems crowned with slender,
shapely buds, which were watched with great solici-
tude. Every morning Patsy would say : " They will
Mr. Benton refused to " consider the lilies " of his
daughter except in the light of a nuisance. Only the
evening before, he had seen her standing in the bean-
arbor with Walter Jones, who seemed lost in his ad-
miration of the girl while she devoured the beauty of
the flowers; and Mr. Benton was not happy at the
" It just beats the devil," he said to himself, " how
there is always a serpent getting into a man's garden to
beguile a foolish girl. It ain't no suitable place any-
how for girls to be dodging around in with their beaux.
My mind's made up," said he, striking his closed right
hand into the open palm of the left. "I'll wipe out
Early the next morning, before the family had risen,
Mr. Benton marched into the garden armed with a hoe.
War Memories. 63
He went to the lily-bed and began the work of destruc-
tion. Aunt Cindy, the cook, was surprised as she took
a view from the kitchen window.
" I 'clar to gracious, de boss is a-workin' Miss Patsy's
garden ! " said she to the housemaid.
" He's workin' nuthin'. He's jes' a-cuttin' an' chop-
pin' up everything," said the more observant girl.
" Ef dat ole vilyun is spilen' dat chile's gyardin ,"
said the cook, " when she fines it out, little Patsy'll tar
up de whole plantation. You listen out when she gits
up en comes down-stairs. He ain't done no payin' job
dis time, I let you know he ain't dat. Great Gawd,"
said she, " Patsy'll be mad ! — eh — eh ! "
Jeff Davis, Patsy's little brother, who was out at the
front gate, spied Walter Jones riding past, and called
out at the top of his voice, " Come in, old fellow, and
take breakfast. Sissy's asleep yet, but we have killed
a chicken, and churned, and opened a keg of nails,
and there are three fine cantaloupes in the ice-box."
Walter could not resist this invitation. He dis-
mounted and joined Mr. Benton on the porch, where
that gentleman was sipping a cup of black morning
coffee after his labor in the garden.
The dense fog was clearing away, and the sun began
to show in the eastern horizon. Patsy came down, and
was working up the golden butter, printing it with her
prettiest molds. She knew Walter was there. 'She
set on the breakfast table a vase filled with water, and
ran out into the garden to get the lilies for a center-
piece of beauty and color — for they had actually opened
64 Old Times in Dixie Land.
In a moment everybody was electrified by a terrific
scream. The whole family rushed out to see what was
the matter. Patsy was wringing her hands and crying.
She pointed to the ruined flower-beds, sobbing : " Some
wretch has cut up and destroyed all my beautiful
flowers ! "
" Well/' said Jeff Davis, " it won't do any good to
bellow over it like that, Sis. Breakfast is ready^ I tell
you. Come to breakfast,"
But Patsy continued weeping and bewailing her loss,
regardless of entreaties. She called down some an-
athemas on the perpetrator of the outrage, which were
not pleasant to Mr. Benton's ears.
" Dry up this minute ! " said he. " I cut out those
confounded things, and don't let me hear any more
about it. Dry up," said he, sternly, "and eat your
Neither Patsy nor her mother ate anything, however.
They looked through their tears at each other, and were
silent, while rebellious indignation filled their hearts.
Mr. Benton was angry.
" It is beyond all reason," said he, " for you to act
so because I did as I pleased with my own. Anyhow, I
would not give one boy," looking at Jeff, " for a whole
cow-pen full of girls like you," glancing at Patsy.
Walter was an indignant spectator of this scene, and
he wished he could take his sweetheart and fly awaj r
with her forever. He took a hasty leave, and Mr.
Benton went earlier than usual on his daily round of
War Memories. 65
Her mother soothed Patsy's feelings as well as she
could and counseled patience.
" I hate him, if he is my father," said the girl.
The mother reminded her of the filial respect due the
author of her being.
" I wish I had no father," she answered perversely.
Mr. Benton rode back of the fields to the woods where
the " hands " were cutting timber to complete a fence
around the peach orchard. Tom had started in the
spring wagon to go three miles down the river for some
young trees. Jeff sat on the seat beside Tom. When
Mr. Benton returned to go with them to select the trees
at the nursery, the horses were apparently restive and
" Get down, Jeff," said Mr. Benton, " and ride my
horse, while I show Tom how to drive these horses."
A moment after^ Jeff and his father had exchanged
places, and before Mr. Benton had fully grasped the
reins, the ponies took fright and ran out of the road.
Coming suddenly to a tree which had fallen, they
bounded over it, and the vehicle was upset, and Tom and
Mr. Benton were violently thrown out. Tom escaped
with a few bruises, but Mr. Benton was seriously in-
jured, his arm being dislocated and his leg broken. Jeff
went off for the doctor, and Mr. Benton was carried
When Patsy saw the men bringing him into the
house' in this condition, she thought he had been killed,
and was filled with heart-breaking grief and remorse.
*' Poor father ! " she cried, " this is my punishment for
66 Old Times in Dixie Land.
wishing I had no father this morning. Lord, for-
Mr. Benton, however, was not dead. After his in-
jured limbs were set to rights by the surgeon, he was
soon in a fair way to recovery. In the meanwhile,
Patsy and her mother devoted themselves wholly to
ministering to his wants and ameliorating the tedium
of his confinement to the house.
" Pat," said he one day, " you have been a great
trouble and expense to me, but when a man is suffering
with a lame arm and a broken leg, women are certainly
useful to have in the house. You and your mother
have waited on me and taken good care of me for many
weeks." He glanced at his spliced leg and his swollen
arm, and continued : " I could not do much cutting up
things in the garden at this time, Pat, could I ? I wish
I had let your flower-beds alone. Great Caesar! didn't
you make a fuss over those lilies, and your mother, too !
You both actually cried over that morning's work."
" Never mind, father," asid Patsy, reassuringly,
" we don't care now," and she smiled sweetly and lov-
ingly upon the hard-featured invalid.
He was almost well when he said to her : " You are
a good child, and let me tell you, my doctor has fallen
in love with you. He told me so. Yes, Pat, he is
mashed on you, and intends to ask you to marry him,
and you had better give up any foolish notion you may
have taken to Walter Jones, and take the doctor. He is
the best chance you will ever have. He is doing well in
his profession, and besides having a good home to take
you to, he belongs to an influential family. All I ask
War Memories. 67
of you is to promise me you won't refuse the doctor.
You would be a fool to reject such a man."
" father ! " said the girl, " don't ask me to prom-
" I am going to be obeyed in my own house/' said
Mr. Benton, flying into a rage, " and if you don't mind
me, I will put you out of doors."
Patsy was struck with consternation.
The invalid was now able to move around without
assistance. Patsy's heart was full of fear and trem-
The next morning she did not come down to print the
butter or bring her father his early morning coffee. The
girl had eloped with Walter Jones.
" This is worse than breaking my leg," said Mr. Ben-
ton, after his first indignation had subsided.
When he could speak calmly about his trouble to his
wife, he wondered what made Patsy so thoughtless and 1
undutiful, when she was an only daughter and had!
everything she wanted.
" She is very much like her father," said Mrs. Ben-
ton, " and she thought marriage would set her free —
"That's pure folly," said Mr. Benton, "for all
females are and ought to be always controlled by their
male relations. Nothing on God's earth can emanci-
pate a woman. She only changes masters when she
marries and leaves her father's house."
" Patsy, then, has changed masters," said his wife,
" and she seems to be very happy — in her own little
68 Old Times in Dixie Land.
" Old woman, don't get saucy, and I will tell you
something/' said he. " I have sent to the city for some
flower-garden truck, and Maitre has sent me up fifty
dollars' worth of what he calls first-class stuff on the
last boat, and I am going over to give it to Pat to plant.
Tom shall do the work for her, too. To tell you the
real downright truth,, you all made me feel cheap about
chopping up her things, and I am going to replace
" Oh, I am so glad ! " said Mrs. Benton.
" Yes," said Mr. Benton, " I am perfectly willing to
restore forty times as much as I destroyed. Pat's a
trump, anyhow, and I shall never go back on her for
anything she has ever done. You can rely on that for
Mr. Benton was a good neighbor of ours and assumed
some authority over my household. He never failed to
come over immediately whenever we had a visit from
one of the gunboats, and to reprove me sharply for
having any friendly interviews or even civilities with
our " kidney-footed enemies," as he called them, yet at
the same time he would seize upon all the newspapers
which these gentlemanly officers had given us, and carry
them off for his own delectation, regardless of all ob-
jections and expostulations.
HOW WOMAN CAME TO THE RESCUE.
Mary Wall's letter from Clinton, Louisiana, De-
cember 27th, 1863, contains some strong expressions
showing the feeling and suffering among women at that
period : " You must keep in good heart, my dearest
friend, about your son David. I heard he was killed,
but I have just seen Mr. Holmes, who has read in a
Yankee paper : ' Capt. Merrick, of Gen. Stafford's
staff, slightly wounded.' When I heard your boy was
killed I felt the blow, and groaned under it, for I know
just how the iron hoof of Death tears when it settles
down among the heart-strings. When my mother died
last year I did not weep so bitterly, for my only dis-
interested friend was taken from the evil to come ; but
when my gifted, first-born soldier-boy, Willie — my
pride and joy — was laid in a lonely grave, after a mor-
tal gunshot wound, on the Atchafalaya, at Bute la
Rose., that was my hardest trial. I could not get to
him; yet he was decently buried; but of my brother,
shot in the fight in Tennessee, we only know that he
was killed on the battlefield at Franklin. My son
Wesley was reported missing after the fight at Chicka-
mauga; he may be a prisoner. I have heard nothing
70 Old Times in Dixie Land.
more, and my heart stands still when I think he too
may have been killed, and his body thrown in some
ravine or creek, as the Texans are said sometimes to do
when they ' lose ' their Yankee prisoners on the march.
God knows, this is a wicked war ! And there is Bow-
man, my third son; he may be dead, too, for I do not
hear a word from him. I try to steady my aching
heart, and go my way, and do my work with a quiet
face; but often when I am alone I sink down, and the
waves go over me. I can pour out my heart to you. I
do hope your boy is but ' slightly wounded,' so that he
may be sent home to stay with you for a long time.
May God in mercy spare his life; but do not set your
heart on him."
General Leroy Stafford, on his last visit to his family,
stopped at Myrtle Grove and gave me the particulars of
the engagement at Payne's Farm, Virginia, where
David was shot, the ball entering his head above the
ear and going out on the other side below the ear. He
fell from his horse, it was supposed, mortally wounded.
By careful medical attention he survived with the loss
of the sight of one eye and power of hearing, the drum
of one ear being perforated. He suffered temporarily
much disfigurement from paralysis of the facial nerve.
When I saw my handsome boy in this condition my
distress will not tax the imagination. " mother,"
he said, " you ought not to feel in this way ! So many
mothers' boys can never come back to them, and I am
alive and getting better every day. If you have felt
cramped in expression, or anybody has ever done any-
thing to you which rubbed you up the wrong way, throw
How Woman Came to the Rescue. 71
down your gauntlet and I'll fight your battles for you.
Don't shed tears over me ! "
Judge Avery said, referring to David's own letter
from the hospital : " It is the letter of a hero — not one
word of complaint in the whole of it." The surgeon
attributed my son's extraordinary recovery to the purity
of blood uncorrupted by the use of tea, coffee, tobacco
or alcoholic drinks.
My brother Milton was surrendered with Port Hud-
son. July 25, 1863, he wrote as follows from Custom
House Prison, No. 6, in New Orleans : " About 2,000
of us are confined here. Many have called to see me
but only one has succeeded — a young lady who an-
nounced herself as my cousin; said she was determined
to have some relative here. I never saw her before.
The ladies are very kind and contribute to all our
wants. Hundreds of them promenade daily before our
windows; they look very sweet and lovely to us. Their
hearts are all right, but when they motion to us with
their fans, or wave their handkerchiefs, the guards take
them away. The whole city is overrun with Yankee
soldiers, and the citizens have a subdued look. We
have no reason to complain of our treatment, and we are
not wholly discouraged. General Lee's successes are
favorable to our cause, and I now feel hopeful of a
speedy termination of our troubles, though I see no
prospect of our release.
" I learn that the Yankees took everything from
Mr. Palmer's near Clinton — negroes, mules, horses,
made the old man dig up his buried silver, and so
alarmed the old lady that she died of fright. I wish to
72 Old Times in Dixie Land.
get back into the field — feel more and more the neces-
sity to establish our independence, for we can never
again live at peace with our hated enemy."
Notwithstanding these things, and that this brother
was confined for two years at Johnson's Island until
after the surrender, he has been for years a loyal Ke-
publican, and is now an office-holder under Mr. Mc-
The jayhawkers were a terror in the neighborhood
of our Pleasant Hill plantation, where Mr. Merrick
spent much of the war period. These guerilla ruffians
gave many peaceable families much anxiety even when
dwelling hundreds of miles from the seat of war.
They were sometimes deserters and always outlaws,
but wore the uniform of either army as fitted their
purpose, and had no scruples about doing the most law-
less and violent deed. At one time it was unsafe to
let it be known when the head of the family would go or
return, or to allow any plans to leak out, lest a descent
should be made on the unprotected home or the equally
unprotected absentee. A careful servant, closing the
window-blinds at night, would caution Mr. Merrick to
keep out of the range of wandering shots which were
often fired by these desperadoes at unoffending per-
sons. It has been asserted that the guerillas were a
part of the regular Confederate service, whereas they
were outlawed by the army and subject to summary
discipline if caught.
When the Confederates were about us we enjoyed im-
munity from terrors. For ten months General Walk-
er's Division of our army camped on my land. It is
How Woman Came to the Rescue. 73
true we divided our stores with them, but the sense of
protection was an unspeakable comfort. I had rooms
near my house furnished as a hospital, where I nursed
friend or foe who came to me sick. Medicines were
treasured more than gold; a whole neighborhood felt-
safer if it were known there was a bottle of quinine
in it; drugs were kept buried like silver.
There was much delightful association with the of-
ficers and our other friends in the army. Every family
had stored away for times of illness or extra occasions
little remnants of our former luxuries — wine, tea,
coffee. General Dick Taylor was once my guest.
While sipping his champagne at dinner he exclaimed:
" I'm astonished, madam, that in these times you can
be living in such luxury ! " I explained that it was
the birthday of my daughter Laura for which we had
long prepared, and that to honor it I had drawn on
my last bottle of wine saved for sickness. I made him
laugh by relating that every time there was a raid I
got out a bottle of wine, and we all drank in solemn
state to keep it from falling into the hands of the
General Eichard Taylor was the only son of Presi-
dent Zachary Taylor. He married a Louisiana lady
and made his home in this State. He won conspicuous
success as a brigade commander under Stonewall
Jackson, and being placed in command of the Depart-
ment of Mississippi and Alabama, his brilliant record
culminated in the victories of Mansfield and Pleasant
Hill. Having beaten General Banks one day at the
former place, he pursued him to Pleasant Hill — where
74 Old Times in Dixie Land.
my husband was during the whole period of active war-
fare — and defeated him again. He was the idol of the
Trans-Mississippi Department — and well he might be,
for he alone had redeemed it from utter hopelessness.*
General Polignac was the brave Frenchman who set
his men wild with amusement and enthusiasm, by plac-
ing his hand on his heart and exclaiming with em-
pressement : " Soldiers, behold your Polignac ! " They
beheld him and followed him ardently. While par-
taking of very early green peas and roast lamb at my
table, he asked : " Did you raise these peas under glass,
madam ? " " Look at my broken windows," I an-
swered, e< all over this house, and tell whether I can
raise peas under glass when we can't keep ourselves
under it ! " With such as we had everybody kept open
house while the war lasted. Nobody, high or low,, was
turned from the door; so long as there was anything
to divide, the division went on: all of which has con-
firmed me in the belief that in proportion as artificial
social conditions are removed the divinity in man
shines out; and that Bellamy's vision for humanity
need not be all a dream.
The news of Lee's surrender fell with stunning force,
although it had long been feared that the Confederates
were nearing the end of their resources. Peace was
welcomed by the class of men who had begun to desert
the army, because their little children were starving
at home; it was also good news to the broad-minded
student of history who knew that surrender was the
* Southern Historical Society Papers.
How Woman Came to the Rescue. 75
only alternative for an army overpowered; that the
victories of peace embodied the only hope. But there
were many who said : " Why not have fought on until
all were dead — man, woman and child? What is left
to make life worth the living ? "
An impression prevailed among the victors of the
civil war, that the Southern people were lying awake
at night to curse the enemy that had wrought their
desolation and impoverishment. Nothing could have
been further from the truth. After the first stupefy-
ing effects of the surrender, the altered social and do-
mestic conditions engrossed every energy. Every home
mourned its dead. Those were counted happy who
could lay tear-dewed flowers upon the graves of their
soldier-slain — so many never looked again, even upon
the dead face of him who had smiled back at them as
the boys marched away to the strains of Dixie. The
shadow of a mutual sorrow drew Southern women in
sympathy and tenderness toward weeping Northern
mothers and wives. True men who have bravely
fought out their differences cherish no animosities —
though still unconvinced.
The women in every community seemed to far out-
number the men; and the empty sleeve and the crutch
made men who had unflinchingly faced death in battle
impotent to face their future. Sadder still was it to
follow to the grave the army of men, of fifty years and.
over when the war began, whose hearts broke with the
loss of half a century's accumulations and ambitions,
and with the failure of the cause for which they had
risked everything. Communities were accustomed td
76 Old Times in Dixie Land.
lean upon these tried advisers; it was almost like the
slaughter of another army — so many such sank beneath
the shocks of reconstruction.
It is folly to talk about the woman who stood in the
breach in those chaotic days, being the traditional
Southern woman of the books, who sat and rocked her-
self with a slave fanning her on both sides. She was
doubtless fanned when she wished to be; but the ante-
bellum woman of culture and position in the South
was a woman of affairs; and in the care of a large
family — which most of them had — and of large in-
terests, she was trained to meet responsibilities. So in
those days of awful uncertainties, when men's hearts
failed them, it was the woman who brought her greater
adaptability and elasticity to control circumstances,
and to lay the foundations of a new order. She sewed,
she sold flowers, milk and vegetables, and she taught
school; sometimes even a negro school. She made pies
and corn-bread, and palmetto hats for the Federals in
garrison; she raised pigs, poultry and pigeons; and she
cooked them when the darkey — who was " never to wuk
no mo' " — left her any to bless herself with ; she
washed, often the mustered-out soldier of the house fill-
ing her tubs, rubbing beside her and hanging out her
clothes; and he did her swearing for her when the
Yankee soldier taunted over the fence : " Wall, it doo
doo my eyes good to see yer have to put yer lily-white
hands in the wash-tub ! "
As soon as the war was over, my daughter went with
her grandmother to visit her fathers relatives in
Massachusetts. In letters to her, beginning Septem-
How Woman Came to the Rescue. JJ
ber 16, 1865, I thus described the conditions under
which we were living : " The war was prosperity to the
state of things which peace has wrought. Society is
resolving itself into its original elements. Chaos has
come again. St. Domingo is a paradise to this part
of the United States, which is cut off from the benefits
of government. The negroes who Jiave gained their j
liberty are more unhappy and dissatisfied than ever!
before. Poor creatures ! their weak brains are puz-
zling over the great problem of their future. Care
seems likely to eat up every pleasure in their bewildered :
lives. They no longer dance and sing in the quarters
at night, but sit about in dejected groups; their chief
dissipation is prayer-meeting. It is a dire perplexity
that they must pay their doctor's bills; they resent it
as a bitter injustice that ' Marster ' does not ' find
them' in medicine and all the ordinary things of liv-
ing as of old. They say no provision is made for them.
They are left to work for white folks the same as ever,
but for white folks who no longer care for them nor
are interested in their own joys and sorrows. Freedom
meant to them the abolition of work, liberty to rove un-
controlled, to drink liquor and to carry firearms. As
Eose recently said to me : "I don't crave fin'ry — jes
plenty er good close, en vittles, en I 'spects ter get dese
widout scrubbin' f er 'em/ ' Where is de gover'ment ? '
they ask anxiously, 'en de forty acres er Ian', en de
mule ? ' — which each one of them was led to reckon on.
They expected a saturnalia of freedom; to be legis-
lators, judges and governors in the land, to live in the
white folks' houses, and to ride in their carriages.
78 Old Times in Dixie Land.
They cannot understand a freedom that involves labor
and care. They say they were deceived; that white
folks still have the upper hand, and ride while they
walk. I pity them deeply.
" You know I have never locked up anything. Now
I am a slave to my keys. I am robbed daily. Spoons,
cups and all the utensils from the kitchen have been
carried off. I am now paying little black Jake to steal
some of them back for me., as he says he knows where
they are. I cannot even set the bread to rise without
some of it being taken. All this, notwithstanding the
servants are paid wages. It is astonishing that those
we have considered most reliable are engaged in the
universal dishonesty. I understand they call it 'sp'ilin '
de 'Gypshuns ! '
" The Mississipi river is open ; — the boats ply daily
up and down, but we have no mail. We are surely
treated like stepchildren of the great United States.
Already the tax-assessor has come to value our prop-
erty; the tax-gatherer has collected the national reve-
nues; agents of the Freedman's Bureau are taking the
census of negro children preparatory to forming
schools, and Northern land buyers are looking out for
bargains in broken-up estates. Is it strange that we
ask : ' Where is the postmaster ? ' We have had already
too much exclusion from the world in Confederate days.
Let us emerge from our former ' barbarous state of
ignorance/ — and let me hear from my absent child in
" Your father has written from New Orleans as fol-
lows : ' I have extricated my Jefferson City property
How Woman Came to the Rescue. 79
from the seizure of the Federals, and have paid $800
tc release it, though I think it will cost several hundred
more. They — the Federals — burnt the mill mortgaged
to me by G. B. M.— and I shall lose $5,000 on that.
I think I have done remarkably well to have paid off
so many incumbrances, but I wish you to have for the
present a rigid management of all matters of expense.
I am glad I have a prospect of getting my law library
into my possession again. I find four hundred and
fifty volumes of it in the quartermaster's department.
" I can only extricate my affairs by economy on the
part of all my family, and am only asking that they
show a little patience under our temporary separation.
I do not wish them to aid me by earning anything, ex-
cept it be David, for himself individually ; but we shall
all be in the cit}* - in our own home the sooner by the
exercise of present self-denial.
" 'I am glad to learn that the people of the South
denounce the assassination of Lincoln,' for it was a
ruinous misfortune to us.
" At present we are living at as little expense as
possible with no perceptible income. We are taxed
according to the ante-bellum tax lists — including our
slaves and property swept off the earth by the armies.
A fine sugar estate, near us on the river, worth two
hundred thousand dollars, was sold last week for taxes,
which were seven thousand five hundred dollars. The
whole estate — land, dwelling, sugar house, stock —
brought only four thousand dollars. There could
scarcely be completer confiscation than these unright-
80 Old Times in Dixie Land.
eons tax-sales under which millions of dollars "worth of
property are advertised for sale.
" I saw a late article in the Chicago Times in which
the writer said : ' You had better be a poor man's dog
than a Southerner now.' If our negroes are idle and
impudent we are not allowed to send them away. If
we have crops waiting in the fields for gathering, the
hands are all given by the semi-military government
' passes to go' though we pay wages; and (weakly or
humanely?) buy food, furnish doctors and wait on the
sick, very much in the old way, simply because nature
refuses to snap the ties of a lifetime on the authority
of new conditions. I have it in mind to make Myrtle
Grove a very disagreeable place to some of the most
trifling, so that they will get into the humor to hunt
a new home.
" General Price said : ' We played for the negro, and
the Yankees fairly won the stake, with Cuffy's help/
Let them have hin^ and keep him ! Your father has
just had a settlement with his freedmen. They are
extremely dissatisfied with the result. Though they
acknowledge every item on their accounts, furnished
at New Orleans wholesale prices, it is a disappointment
not to have a large sum of money for their years labor
— that, too, after an extravagance of living we have not
dared to allow ourselves, and an idleness for which we
are like sufferers, as the crop was planted on shares.
I am convinced the negroes are too much like children
to understand or be content with the share system.
" I have a good cook, but she has a cavaliere servente,
besides her own husband and children, to provide for
How Woman Came to the Rescue. 81
out of my storeroom, which she does in my presence
very often — though it is not in the bond. I am im-
patient when she takes the butter given her for pastry
and substitutes lard; yet I cannot withhold my admira-
tion when I see her double the recipe in order that
her own table may be graced with a soft- jumble as
good as mine. Somebody has said : ' By means of fire,
blood, sword and sacrifice you have been separated from
your black idol.' It looks to me as if he is hung
around our necks like the Ancient Mariner's albatross.
You ridicule President Johnson's idea of loaning us
farming implements. You must not forget who
burned ours. We need money, for we have to pay the
four years' taxes on our freed negroes!
"There is bad blood between the races. Those fa-
miliar with conditions here anticipate that the future
may witness a servile war — a race war — result of mili-
tary drilling, arming and haranguing the negro for
political ends. Secession was a mistake for which you
and I were not responsible. But even if our country
was wrong, and we knew it at the time — which we did
not — we were right in adhering to it. The best people in
the South were true to our cause ; only the worthless and
unprincipled, with rare exceptions, went over to the
enemy. We must bear our trials with what wisdom
and patience we may be able to summon until our
status is fully defined. I cannot but feel, however,
that if war measures had ceased with the war, if United
States officers on duty here, and the Government at
Washington,, had shown a friendly desire to bury past
animosities and to start out on a real basis of reunion,
82 Old Times in Dixie Land.
we should have become a revolutionized, reconstructed
people by this time. But certain it is that the enemy — ■
authorities and ' scalawag '-friends, who now cruelly
oppress the whites and elevate the negro over us — are
hated as the ravaging armies never were, and a true
union seems farther off than ever."
miss vine's dinner paety and its abrupt conclu-
War is demoralizing, and ever since "our army
swore terribly in Flanders,," profanity has been a mili-
tary sin. In my neighborhood it extended to the
women and children who had never before violated the
third commandment. I knew a little girl who, having
seen a regiment of Federal soldiers marching along
the public highway, ran to her mother crying, "The
damned Yankees are coming ! " She was exempt from
reproof on account of the exciting nature of the news.
She had doubtless heard the obnoxious word so often
in this connection that she deemed it a correct term.
I tried to preserve my own household "pure and
peaceable and of good report," and I plead with my
five girls to avoid all looseness of expression. But
Fannie Little asked : " Mrs. Merrick, may I not even
tell Eose to ' go to the devil ' when she puts my night-
gown where I can't find it, and makes me wait so long
for hot water ? "
" No, indeed, my child ! Only Christian ministers
can speak with propriety of the devil, and use his name
on common occasions."
As a social side-light on these disordered secession
84 Old Times in Dixie Land.
war-times the following sketch is a true picture. The
characters and incidents are real, but the names are
assumed. The endeavor to embalm the events in words
diverted me in the midst of graver experience during
those chaotic days.
Beechwood plantation has a frontage of two miles on
the banks of a navigable river. The tall dwelling-
house was so surrounded by other buildings, all well
constructed and painted white, that the first glance
suggested the idea of a village embowered in trees.
The proprietorship of a noble estate implies a certain
distinction, and in fact the owner of this property had
for many years represented his district in Congress.
In past as well as present times people manifest a dis-
position to bestow political honors upon men of pros-
perity and affluence.
Mr. Templeton, notwithstanding the fact that he pos-
sessed an uncommonly large amount of property in
land and slaves^ was not a giant either in body or in
mind. He surely had spoken once in the national
Capitol, for was he not known to have sent a printed
copy of a speech to every one of the Democratic con-
stituents in the State? In this pamphlet were set
forth eloquent and powerful arguments against the un-
just discrimination of the specific duties on silk, which
he thought operated to the disadvantage and serious
injustice of the poor man. He asserted confidently
that the poor people would purchase only the heavy,
serviceable silken goods, while the rich preferred the
lighter and flimsier fabrics, thus paying proportion-
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 85
ately a much smaller revenue to the Government. Tins
proved conclusively that Mr. Templeton never con-
sulted his wife, whose rich dresses were always paid for
as the tariff was arranged — ad valorem. His patriotic
soul was harrowed and filled with sympathy and sor-
row on account of the injustice and hardship thus dealt
out to his needy and indigent constituents. We cannot
follow this interesting man's public career, and prob-
ably it is customary for great statesmen "to study the
people's welfare" and to have the good of the poor
men who vote for them very much upon their disin-
The Templeton family came originally from that
State which furnished to the South, in the hour of
trial, some brave soldiers and a good song — " Maryland,
my Maryland." Lavinia, Mr. Templeton's only
daughter, had been educated at the Convent in Em-
metsburg, and had returned home after Fort Sumter
was fired upon and other disturbances were anticipated.
This slender, delicate, little creature was very graceful
and pretty, timid as a fawn, and frisky as a young colt.
At first she could not be induced to sit at table if there
was a young man in the dining-room. She said she
preferred to wait, and when she came in afterward for
her dinner her brother Frank testified that she always
ate an extra quantity to make up for the delay.
Old Miss Eliza thought Vine so lovely and good that
she always allowed her to do as she pleased, only en-
joining on her to "be a lady." Miss Eliza was an
old-maid cousin who lived in the family, shared the
cares and anxieties of the parents, and was greatly re-
86 Old Times in Dixie Land.
epected by everybody. She was not a particularly re-
ligious person — there not being a church within ten
miles — but she was kind,, courteous and gentle, and ex-
hibited a great deal of deportment of the very finest
quality — as might have been expected from her refined
Virginia antecedents. She could not abide that the
servants should call Lavinia Templeton " Miss Vine/'
but they called her so all the same.
Beaux far and near contended for Lavinia's regard,
and in less than six months after leaving the convent
she was married to a young captain newly enlisted in
the artillery of the Confederate service. A grand wed-
ding came off where many noteworthy men assembled.
While the band played and the giddy dance went on,
groups of these consulted about the portentous war
clouds. One great man said : " There will be no war ;
I will promise to drink every drop of blood shed in
this quarrel ! "
But soon there was a military uprising everywhere.
As men enlisted they went into a camp situated less
than an hour's drive from Beechwood. Vine and her
lover-husband refused to be separated, so she virtually
lived in the encampment. The spotless new tents, with
bright flags flying, the young men thronging around
the carriages which brought their mothers and sisters
as daily visitors, made this camp in the woods a be-
Every luxury the country afforded was poured out
with lavish hands. Friends, neighbors and loved ones
at home skimmed the richest cream of the land for the
delectation and refreshment of their dear soldier boys.
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 87
A" young schoolboy, who dined with his brother in camp
on barbecued mutton and roast wild turkey with all the
accompaniments, wrote to his father that he too was
ready to enlist, having now had a perfect insight into
soldier life. As this gallant veteran to-day looks at
his empty, dangling coat-sleeve and is shown his boyish
letter, he smiles a grim smile and says : " Yes, I was
a fool in those days." Vine's husband had a noble
figure and was a picture of manly beauty in his new
uniform with scarlet facings. To the horror of her
woman friends the devoted little wife cut up a costly
black velvet gown, and made it into a fatigue jacket
for him to wear in camp.
Meanwhile the unexpected happened and we were
in the midst of a real, terrible war. Federal military
operations extended over the whole country; then ap-
peared a gunboat with its formidable armament, strik-
ing a panic into all the white inhabitants. Soldiers
advanced to the front, while citizens precipitately re-
treated to the rear. In trepidation and hot haste
planters gathered up their possessions for departure.
Slaves, always dearer and more precious to the average
Southern heart than either silver or gold, were first
collected and assembled with the owners and their fami-
lies* and then formed large companies of refugees who
went forth to look for a temporary home in some less
exposed part of the country.
'After much deliberation Mr. and Mrs. Templeton,
with the little boys and their cumbrous retinue of
wagons, horses and slaves, went to Texas, leaving their
daughter Vine, Miss Eliza and two faithful servants as
88 Old Times in Dixie Land.
sole tenants of Beechwood. The expected advance of
Federal forces in the spring seemed to justify the re-
duction of the place to such slender equipment. Mean-
while, Captain Paul had been through a campaign in
Virginia. On the very day of the battle of Bethel,
Vine clasped a new-born daughter in her arms, and the
father requested that its name should be Bethel in com-
memoration of that engagement. This child was a
year old before he saw its face. The time came when
Louisiana soil was to be plowed up with military
trenches and fortifications, and Captain Paul was
ordered to Port Hudson. The siege of that place soon
In the evenings Miss Eliza sat on the gallery holding
Bethel in her arms, while Vine rocked little Dan, the
baby of seven months, and they would all listen in
wistful silence to the volleys of heavy guns sounding
regularly and dolefully far down the river. The regu-
lar boom of the thundering volleys kept on day and
night. The two servants, Becky and Monroe, would
occasionally join the group; "Never mind, Miss Vine,
don't you fret," they would say ; " sure , Captain
Paul's all right." After many weeks of painful sus-
pense and anxiety the shocking news came that Captain
Paul had been killed by the explosion of a shell.
Vine's grief was wild. She wept and raved by turn,
until Miss Eliza feared she would die. Becky with
womanly instinct brought her the children and re-
minded her that she still had these. " Take them
away," cried Vine, " I loved them only for his sake ;
children are nothing! Take them out of my sight!
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 89
Oh ! Lord/' she cried, " let us all die and be buried to-
gether! Why does anybody live when Paul is dead?
— dead, dead, forever ! "
Vine put on no mourning in her widowhood, for such
a thing as crepe was unattainable in those days. The
girls in the neighborhood came and stayed with her
by turns, and did all they could to divert her mind
from her loss.
In a short time even punctilious Miss Eliza rejoiced
to perceive some return of Vine's former cheerfulness.
She said it was sad enough and bad enough to have a
horrible war raging and ravaging over the country,
without insisting that a delicate young thing like La-
vinia should go on forever moping herself to death in
unavailing grief. There was no need of anything of
the kind. While wishing her niece to avoid "getting
herself talked about," Miss Eliza yet thought it need-
ful, right and proper that she should take some diver-
sion and some healthy amusement. So it came to pass
after awhile that one day all the officers and soldiers
who were temporarily at home, and all the young ladies
living on the river, were invited to dine together at
The day was cool and delightful, with just a tinge
of winter in the air. Extensive fields, where hundreds
of bales of cotton and thousands of barrels of corn,
had been grown annually, were now given up to weeds,
briars and snakes. Here and there in protected nooks
and corners clusters of tall golden-rod or blue and
purple wild asters waved their heads. Only one small
patch of ripened corn near the dwelling indicated that
90 Old Times in Dixie Land.
the inhabitants had not entirely forgotten seed-time
and might possibly have hope of even a tiny harvest
It was eleven o'clock before Vine had finished the
work of decorating her parlors. She felt weary from
the unusual exertion, but remembering her duties to
her expected guests, she ran to the window overlooking
the kitchen and called, " Becky, Becky, you know who
are to be here; now do have everything all right for
dinner; and, Becky,' please keep the children quiet, for
I should like to take a nap before I dress."
" Y'as'm," said the woman, while a shade of care came
into her honest face, as she regarded the two children
playing in the corner of the kitchen. " I 'clar to Gawd,
dat's jes' like Miss Vine, she's done got in de bed dis
minit and lef me wid bofe dese chillun on my han's,
en she knows, mitey well, dat um got a heap to tend
ter, dis day. She tole me dat she wus gwine to he'p
me, she did, en it's de Gawd's trufe dat she ain't done
er spec of er blessed thing ceppin gether dem bushes and
flowers, en Captain Prince he hope her at dat. Now, eii
she had put her han' to de vegables, dat would er ben
sumpin. Flowers will do for purty and niceness, but
you cayent eat 'em, en you cayent drink 'em. Dey're
des here to-day and gone all to pieces to-morrow; whut
good is dey anyhow? a whole kyart load of um don't
mount ter er hill er beans. Well," she continued, " I
jes' won't blame de young creetur, but Gawd ermitey
only knows when all dem white folks will set down ter
dat ar dinner Miss Vine done 'vited 'em ter come here
en eat ! Here, Beth," said she kindly to the little girl,
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 91
" clam up on dis stool, honey, by dis table ; um gwine
ter fix yo a nice roas' tater in a minit. Yo, Dan/' she
called out sharply to the boy, "yo jes' stop mashin'
dat cat's tail wid dat cheer 'fo' he scratch yo to deff!
Min', I tell yer ! It jes' looks like Miss Vine wouldn't
keer ef I bust my brains er wukin' ; but I ain't er gwine
to do dat fer nobody. Well, not fer strange white folks,
Here Beth with a mouthful of sweet potato asked for
water. Becky promptly dipped a "gourd full and held
it to her lips grumbling all the while, " Lamb 0' Gawd,
how in de name er goodness is I gwine ter wait on dese
chillun, wash up dese dishes, put on dinner, en fetch
all de wood from de wood pile ? " As she stood con-
templating her manifold duties, she heard the clock
in the house striking the hour. "Lord, Gawd," said
she, " ef it ain't twelve o'clock er 'ready, en shore nufr*
here comes all dem white folks jes' a gallopin' up de
big road. Eh — eh — eh — well, dey'll wait twell em
ready fur 'em, dat's all. But I does wish Miss Vine
was mo' like her mar. Ole Mis' wouldn't never
dremped 'bout 'viten a whole pasel er folks here, widout
havin' pigs, and po'try, pies and cakes, en sich, all
ready, de day befo'. She had plenty on all sides an'
plenty ter do de work too. Now here's Miss Vine
she's after havin' her own fun. Well, she's right, you
hear me, niggahs ! "
"You ain't talkin' to me, Aunt Becky," said Beth;
" I ain't no nigger." The woman laughed, dropped
her dishcloth on the unswept floor, grasped the child
and tossed her up several times over her head. " Gawd
92 Old Times in Dixie Land.
bless dis smart chile ! no, dat yo ain't ! yo is a sweet,
little, white angel o-uten heaben, you is dat, you purty
little white pig ! "
In the height of this performance Monroe came to
the door and thrust in an enormous turkey just killed.
Seeing what was going on he exclaimed : " Why, Aunt
Becky, yo better stop playing wid dat white chile en
pick dis turkey 'fo' Miss Eliza happen "long here en
" Shet yo mouf , en git out o' dis kitchen, boy ; you
cayent skeer me ; I can give you as good es you can sen'
any day. De white folks knows I ain't got but two
han's and can't do a hundred things in a minit." She
put the child down, however, and resumed her dish
The girls in the meantime had retouched their dis-
heveled curls and joined the young men in the parlor,
where for a time music, songs and dances made the
hours fly. Let us play " Straw," said Nelly Jones.
" JSTo, let Captain Prince lead and choose the game,"
So the captain seated the company in line. " Now,"
said he/, " not one of you must crack a smile on pain
of forfeit, and when I say prepare to pucker, you must
all do so," — drawing out as he spoke the extraordinary
aperture in his own good-natured face, extending his
lips into an automatic, gigantic, wooden smirk reach-
ing almost from ear to ear. Everybody giggled of
course, but he went on : " I shall call out ' Pucker/
and you must instantly face about with your mouths
fixed this way" — and he drew up his wonderful feature
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 93
small enough to dine with the stork out of a jar.
The company shouted, but the game was never played,
for reproof and entreaty, joined to the captain's word
of command, failed to get them beyond a preparatory
attempt which ended always in screams of laughter.
The sun was getting low in the west when another
want began to appeal to the inner consciousness of these
young persons. Some of them had ridden for miles
in the morning air; since then they had sung and
danced and laughed in unlimited fashion. Now they
began to think of some other refreshment. Arabella
ventured to request that Captain Prince be sent to the
kitchen to reconnoiter and bring in a report from the
commissary department. The captain responded
amiably, and said she was a sensible young lady.
" Vine, ain't you hungry ? " asked Arabella. " Oh, I
took some luncheon before you came," replied she ; " if
you will go up-stairs and look in the basket under my
dressing table, you will find some sandwiches, but not
enough for all." The girl flew up-stairs.
When Captain Prince returned the girls rushed for-
ward and overpowered him with questions. He threw
up his hands deprecatingly and waved off his noisy
assailants. " Stop, stop, young ladies, I will make
my report. I went round to the kitchen and found
Aunt Becky behind the chimney ripping off the
feathers of a turkey so big " (holding his hands nearly
a yard apart). "I got a coal 0' fire to light my pipe,
then I made a memorandum." Here he pulled out
an old empty pocketbook and pretended to read — " Item
94 Old Times in Dixie Land.
1st, ' Fowl picking at three o'clock/ that means dinner
at six. Can you wait that long?"
" Never ! " cried the girls.
* Well, we must then go into an election for a new
housekeeper who will go in person or send a strong
committee who will whoop up the cook and expedite the
meal which is to refresh these fair ladies and brave
men," — and he began to count them.
" Don't number me in your impolite crowd," said
Arabella, " for I am content to wait until dinner is
ready." Vine gave her a meaning smile and went up
pleadingly to the captain, rolling her fine eyes in the
innocent, sweet way characteristic of some of the most
fascinating of her sex, and begging him to continue
tc be the life and soul of her party, as he always was
everywhere he went : she said if he would " start some-
thing diverting," she would go and stir Becky up and
have dinner right off — she would, " honest Indian."
These girls were not sufficiently polite to keep up a
pleased appearance when bored. Such little artificiali-
ties of society belonged to the days of peace. They
flatly refused to dance, saying they were tired. One
avowed that she was sorry she had persuaded her
mother to let her come to such a poky affair, and an-
other declared that she had never been anywhere in her
whole lifetime before where there was not cake, fruit,
candy, popcorn, pindars, or something handed round
when dinner was as late as this. " Oh," said Nelly
Jones, " I wish I had a good stalk of sugar-cane." In
fact a cloud seemed to settle down in the parlors like
smoke in murky weather.
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 95
Captain Prince stroked his blond goatee affection-
ately and looked serious, but brightening up in a mo-
ment he crossed the wide hall and entered the library
where Major Bee was writing. He captured the major,
brought him and introduced him to the ladies, and
then seated him in a capacious arm-chair, while he held
a whispering conference with Nelly Jones. Nelly's
wardrobe was the envy and admiration of all the girls
on the river. Being the daughter of a cotton speculator,
she wore that rare article, a new dress. Unlike Ara-
bella, whose jacket was cut from the best part of an old
piano cover, she was arrayed in fine purple cashmere
trimmed with velvet and gold buttons, and was other-
wise ornamented with a heavy gold chain and a little
watch set with diamonds. Nelly took the captain's arm
and made a low bow to Major Bee, and the girls were
once more on the qui vive when they heard the captain
say in slow and measured tones, " I have come with the
free and full consent of this young lady to ask you to
join us for life in the bonds of matrimony." The ami-
able old major seemed ready to take part in this danger-
ous pastime, for gentle dulness ever loves a joke.
" Bring me a prayer book," said he, " if you please."
" I lent my mother's prayer book," said Vine, " to
old Mrs. Simpson two years ago, and she never re-
turned it — the mean old thing ! "
The major next asked for a broom which he held
down before the couple saying, " Jump over."
"Hold it lower," said Nelly, and they stepped over
in a business-like manner.
u Now," said Major Bee, " I solemnly pronounce you
96 Old Times in Dixie Land.
husband and wife, and I hope and trust that you will
dwell together lovingly and peacefully until you die.
I have at your request tied this matrimonial knot as
tight as I possibly could, under the circumstances, and
I hope you will neither of you ever cause me to regret
that I have had the pleasure of taking part in this
highly dignified and honorable ceremony."
Then the old major kissed the bride, whom he had
always petted from childhood, and shook hands with
Captain Prince, whom Nelly refused the privilege ac-
corded the major, for said she, "there was no kissing
in the bargain." The company crowded around with
noisy congratulations; a sofa was drawn forward, and
the mock bridal couple sat in state and entertained
" My dear," remarked the bride, " I expected to
make a tour when I was married."
" Yes, miss," — he corrected himself quickly, — " yes,
madam, I think as there are no steamboats that we
may take a little journey up the river on a raft."
" What kind of a raft, Captain ? " asked Nelly.
Ci My love, I mean a steam raft. I will take the
steam along in a jug."
Nelly made a terrible grimace of disgust and was
silent for a moment, her mind still dwelling on the
bridal tour. " Captain, you know we must have money
for traveling expenses," said she.
"Yes, darling, it takes that very thing, so I will
spout your fine watch and chain, and then we can find
ourselves on wheels."
Nelly drew down the corners of her pretty mouth,
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 97
pouted her lips and looked more disgusted than ever.
To them it was all very funny.
" My dearest, I fear when your mother hears the
news she will say ' Poor Nelly, she has thrown herself
away ! ' " and the captain actually blushed at this vis-
ion of Mrs. Jones's disapprobation.
" Keep the ball rolling, Captain," said Billy Morris,
" this sport is splendid."
The captain fixed his keen eye on Billy's large, stand-
ing collar and asked, " Did you ever see a small dog
trotting along in high oats? Well," — surveying his
person — " I have."
" Come now, Captain," replied Billy, " I'll allow you
some privileges, being just married, but you must pass
your wit around. I've had enough. Don't compare
your single unmarried friend to a dog."
Dinner was then announced and the party were soon
seated at table. That king of edible birds, the turkey
savory and brown, was placed at one end, and a fresh
stuffed ham stood at the other, while the vegetables
filled up the intervening space. A large bunch of
zinnias and amaranthus set in a broken pitcher formed
a gay center-piece. The dessert was egg-nogg, and
Confederate pound-cake made from bolted cornmeal.
The dinner was concluded with a cup of genuine coffee.
Notwithstanding the late meal, never had there been
a merrier day at old Beechwood. Healths to the absent
ones were drunk from the single silver goblet of egg-
nogg allowed for each guest. The girls did not relish
this mixture made of crude and fiery Louisiana rum,
but the soldiers were not so fastidious; they said they
98 Old Times in Dixie Land.
often had occasion to repeat the remark of the Gov-
ernor of North Carolina to the Governor of South Caro-
lina that "it was a long time between drinks."
Monroe removed the dishes and retired to the kitchen
while the guests lingered over the dessert. The cook
sat and looked down the river. The window com-
manded a view for two miles. Her work was done
and she manifested her relief by breaking into singing
" John saw, J-o-h-nsaw,
John saw de holy number
Settin' roun de golden altar.
Golden chariot come fer me, come fer me,
Golden chariot come fer me,
Childun didn't he rise ? "
She had commenced the second verse, " John i$aw,"
when suddenly her jaws fell, and springing up she ex-
claimed : " Jesus marster ! what's dat ? Look ! Every-
body ! Here comes er gunboat, en Kiley's house is er
fire. Don't yer see it bu'nin ! Kim, boy, run, en call
Miss Vine ! Tell Mis Lizer ! Go dis minit an' let 'em
all know, I tell yer ! " " Set right down, set down,
Aunt Becky ! 'tain't none er my business to tell nuthin'.
Set right down, 'oman, en let dem white folks 'lono,"
and the man seized her and pushed her with all his
force towards the chair.
The woman turned fiercely upon him and planted a
blow on the side of his head which sent him headlong
on the floor. " Look er-heah, boy, who is you foolin'
wid, anyhow ? You think yerself a man, does yer when
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 99
yous er born fool ! I let you know it tuck de tightest
overseer ole marster ever had on dis plantashun to rule
me. No nigger like you better try ter tackle Becky.
I'll double you up an fling you outer dis winder in no
time. You neenter tell nuthin. " I'll go tell 'em — I'll
go ef Gawd spars me to git dar. I nussed Miss Vine;
dat gal used to suck dese yere " — and Becky eloquently
placed her hands on her round ebony bosom., as she
broke into a full run from the kitchen door. She en-
tered the dining-room crying out in breathless, agitated
tones, " Look heah, people, thar's a big gunboat er
comin' up de river en Eiley's house is er-fire ! "
In an instant confusion and utter consternation
reigned. " Good God ! " exclaimed Vine, " and here's
all mother's silver! Like a fool I dug it up out of
the garden this morning. Here, Aunt Becky, help me
gather it up." The woman soon rattled a pile of
spoons and forks into a dishpan. " No, no," screamed
Vine, " don't wash them, let me hide them,, quick,
somewhere ! "
The officers and soldiers had disappeared, and in ten
minutes the only male creatures to be seen on the place
were Monroe and the baby. The man was in fine spirits
while engaged in assisting the young ladies to mount
their horses. " Take kere, Miss Em'ly, dis is a skittish
little creole pony, and you rides wid too loose a rein."
To another he said, "'Fore Gawd, Miss Jinnie, I hates
to see a white lady like you a-riden' uv er mule, I
does dat, en er man's saddle too ! Eh, eh ! " " You
never mind," the girl replied ; " my pony and both our
side-saddles were carried off by the last raid from
ioo Old Times in Dixie Land.
Morganza, and I had no choice but to use my brother's
saddle and this mule or stay at home. Cut me a good
stick, Monroe, and I shall get along." "Well, you'll
need a stick," said Monroe, " wid dat lazy ole mule, ef
you 'spects to see home dis night."
One of the horses jerked away every time he was
led up to the steps, but the man was patient with him,
only remarking, " Dis hoss been brutalized 'bout de
head by somebody 'twel he's a plum fool. Jump quick,
Miss Nelly, while um er holdin' him fer ye." The girl
sprang to her saddle, adjusted her dress, and directed
the man to spread a folded shawl for her sister to
ride behind. " Well, well," said he, " dis beats de
bugs, to see white ladies what's used to rollin' 'long
in der carriages a-ridin' double like dis ! " " We don't
care," said they, as the party started off gaily down
After the last departure Monroe went to talk over
the eventful day with Becky. No allusion was made
to such a small matter as a passing blow, and the man
sat down by the fire grinning with real enjoyment.
" Didn't dem white folks scatter quick ? I tell yer,
'Aunt Becky, it done me good all over to see 'em so
frustrated," and he burst into a loud guffaw. "When
sumpin don' go to suit de Templetons, dey'll paw dirt,
dey'll do it, every time, frum ole marster down to de
baby one. Whut did Miss Vine say about it ? "
" Well," said Becky, " lemme tell yer 'bout Miss Vine ;
de fust thing she done arter I bounced in en tole de
news — she gathered up de spoons en forks, en dem
silver tumblers, en sieh, belonging to ole Mis', en den
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 101
she look 'roun' en seed de men wus all gone; den she
clinched her teeth, en des doubled up her fis', she did,
en shuck it t'wards dat big ole boat es she come puffin'
en blowin' up de river, wid de great big cannons
a-sticken outen her sides, en des a-swarmin' all over wid
de blue-coats, en says she : ' Dern you infernal black
souls ! I wish to Gawd every one of you was drownded
in de bottom of de river."
" Lord ! " said Monroe, catching his breath, " now
didn't she cuss ? "
" Yes, sirree ! she did dat ; en so would you, en me,"
" But she's white," said the man. " I don't keer ef
she is ; ain't white folks got f eelin's same as we is ? "
asked Becky. " No," said Monroe, " dey ain't ; some
of um is mighty mean, yes, a heap of 'em."
" Yo cayn't set down here and 'buse Miss Vine," said
Becky, "we're 'bleeged to gib her de praise. Ef its
'f o' her face or 'hine her back, um boun' to say it ; she's
de feelin'est creetur, de free-heartedest, de most corn-
descendin'est young white 'oman, I ever seed in all
my life, — fer a f ac'. But when she done so " — here
Becky shook her fist in imitation of Vine's passionate
outbreak, " en said dat I done tole yer, Miss Eliza put
in en spoke up she did, en says she, ' Laviney, yo must
certinly forgit yo is er lady ! ' Whew ! Miss Vine
never heerd her. 'Twan't no use fer nobody to say
nuthin'. I tell you dat white gal rared en pitched untwel
she bust into be bitteres' cry yo ever heerd in yo life.
She said dem devils warn't satisfied wid killin' her
Paul, en makin' her a lonesome widder, but here dey
102 Old Times in Dixie Land.
comes agin, jes' as she were joy in' herse'f, jes' es she
were takin' a little plesyure, here dey comes a knockin'
uy it all in de haid, en spillin' de fat in de fire.
" I was sorry for de chile, fer it was de Gawd's trufe
she spoke, so I comes back in heah, I did, en got some
of dat strong coffee I dun saved for yo en me, en I
het a cupful an brung it to her. c Here, honey,' says I,
' drink dis fer yo Becky, en d-o-n't cry no mo\ dat's
my good baby ! ' She wipe up her eyes, en stop cryin',
she did, en drunk de coffee. Dar I was, down on my
knees, jes' facin' of her, and she handed back de cup.
'Twas one er ole Mis' fine chaney cups. ' Dat's yo,
honey,' says I, ' you musn't grieve ! ' en I was er pattin'
of her on de lap, when she tuck a sudden freak, en I
let yo know she ups wid dem little foots wid de silver
shoes on, en she kicked me spang over, broadcast, on de
" Den ole Miss Lizer, she wall her eyes at Miss Vine,
en say, ' Laviney, um 'stonished to see yo ax so.' She
mout as well er hilt her mouf — fer it didn't do dat
much good," said Becky, snapping her fingers. " Den
arter er while, Miss Vine seed me layin' dar on de floor
en she jumped up she did, en gin me her two han's to
pull me up. I des knowed I was too heavy for her to
lif, but I tuck a holt of her, en drug her down in my
lap en hugged her in my arms, pore young thing !
Den I jes' put her down e-a-s-y on de hath-rug, 'fo' de
fire, en kiver her up wid a shawl. Den I run up-sta'rs
en fotch a piller, en right dar on de foot of de bed
she had done laid out dat spangly tawlton dress, en I
des knowed she wus gwine to put it on, en dance de
Miss Vine's Dinner Party. 103
Highlan' fling dis very ebenirr. Can't she out-dance
de whole river anyhow ? " said Becky.
" Oh ! " said Monroe, " I don't 'spute dat. I love to
see her in her brother Frank's close a-jumpin' up to
my fiddle ! den she bangs a circus — dat she do ! "
Becky continued her narration : " I conies back en
lif s her head on de piller, en pushed up the chunks to
men' de fire, en lef her dar sobbin' herself down quiet."
Becky sighed and went on : "I tell yo, man, when dat
little creetur dar in de house takes a good start — yo
cayn't hole her, nobody nee'n' to try; you cayn't phase
her I tell you. En dar's Beth, she's gwine be jes' sich
er nother — I loves dat chile too ! She don't feature
her mar neither, 'ceppen her curly head.
" But dis won't do me. Less go up frum here, Mon-
roe. Yo make up a light, en less go to de hen-house
en ketch a pasel of dem young chickens, en put 'em in
de coop. I wants to brile one soon in de mawnin' en
take it to Miss Vine wid some hot co'n cakes. She's
used to eatin' when she fust wakes up, en um gwine to
have sumpen ready fer her, fer I give you my word, dey
ain't de fust Gawd's bit er nuthin 'tall lef frum dat
ar' dinner party."
OUR FEDERAL FRIENDS AND THE COLORED BROTHER.
The bewilderment of the negroes in the great social
upheaval that came with peace was outdone by that of
the white people. The conditions of the war times had
been peaceable and simple compared with the perplexi-
ties of existence now precipitated upon us. The Con-
federacy's 175,000 surrendered soldiers — and these in-
cluded the last fifteen-year-old boy — were scattered
through the South, thousands of them disabled for
work by wounds, and thousands more by ill-health and
ignorance of any other profession than that of arms.
The Federal soldiers garrisoned all important places.
A travesty of justice was meted out by a semi-civil
military authority. Every community maintained an
active skirmish-line against the daily aggressions of
the freedmen and the oppressions of the military arm.
Large sums were paid by citizens to recover property
held by the enemy; and, for a time, the people paid a
per cent, out of every dollar to the revenue office for
a permit to spend that dollar at stores opened by
Yankees — our only source of supply.
Few persons had property readily convertible into
greenbacks, and Confederate money was being burned
or used by the bale to paper rooms in the home of its
Our Federal Friends. 105
possessor. No man knew how to invest money that
had escaped the absorption of war, and when he did
invest it he usually lost it. For the next ten years
what the sword had not devoured the " canker worm "
(cotton worm,, with us) ate up.
The people were in favor of reorganizing the States
in accord with the Union. But the iniquities of
carpet-bag governments and the diabolisms of " black
and tan " conventions for a long time kept respectable
men out of politics. It was indeed too " filthy a pool "
to be entered. At a longer perspective this seems to
have been a mistake. If the best men of the country
had gone into the people's service — as did General
Longstreet with most patriotic but futile purpose — they
might have arrested incessant lootings of the people's
hard-wrested tax-money and the nefarious legislation
that enriched the despised carpet-bagger and scalawag
— present, like the vultures, only for the prey after the
battle. So many men, however, had been disfranchised
by reason of Confederate service that it is doubtful if
enough respectability was eligible for office, to have
had any purifying effect on public affairs.
In this crisis our Northern friends advised us after
the following fashion. Major A. L. Brewer,. Mr. Mer-
rick's uncle, who had belonged to Sherman's army,
sent me, in 1865, a letter from New Lisbon, Ohio:
" My dear Carrie, — Your devotion to Edwin makes
you very dear to me. You know my attachment to
him and that I regard him as a son. He was always
106 Old Times in Dixie Land.
my favorite nephew. Since the war is over I trust that
he will now take the oath of allegiance, and should he
need any aid I can render it. The Secretary of War,
Postmaster-General, Senators Nolle and Sherman of
Ohio, and many others, are my staunch friends.
" As far as suffering is concerned you have had your
share; but I would gladly have endured it for you if I
could have saved my dear hoy Charlie,, who fell in
battle. He was noble and brave, and my heart is
chilled with grief for his loss.
" This was a foolish, unnatural war, and after four
} T ears of bloodshed and destruction I rejoice that it is
o-ver, and that discord will never again disturb the
peace in our country. But the authors of the rebellion
have paid dearly for their folly and wickedness. When
I reflect upon the misery brought about by a few arch
villains, I find it hard to control my feelings; — I
should feel differently had they been the only sufferers.
When I look upon the distress which has fallen upon
the masses in the South, I have no sympathy for the
instigators of the war.
" But, my dear, you have fared better than many
who came within my observation; as I followed Sher-
man, I have seen whole plantations utterly destroyed,
houses burnt and women and children driven into the
woods without warning. The torch was applied to
everything. Sometimes the women would save a few
things, but in most cases they went forth bareheaded to
make the ground their bed and the sky their roof.
The next day when the hungry children came prowling
around our camps in search of something to eat, the
Our Federal Friends. 107
Federal soldiers who left wives and children at home,
and who had the hearts of men, were sorry for them.
But such is the cruelty of war and military discipline."
Captain Charles B. White, a West Point officer in
the United States service in New Orleans, wrote my
daughter Clara, after his return to New York, in this
manner: "I find your experiences in the kitchen very
amusing. Our Northern ladies have an idea that you
of the South know nothing practically of housekeeping.
Quite erroneous is it not? I have been for some time
in Boston and find the girls here prettier as a class,
than those of any other city I have visited, not excepting
Baltimore. They are so sensible and self-assisting. You
see that army people look at the practical side of life. As
our salaries are not large it is essential that our do-
mestic establishments should be as good as possible with
the least outlay of cash. We are therefore compelled
to think of our future life companions in the light of
" It is very agreeable to be here with those in full
accord on social and political subjects, — not that I am
a politician; but since we are the victors, I hold that
we cannot ignore the principles for which we fought.
I think that it behooves Wade Hampton, Toombs, Cobb
and Eobert Ould to hold their tongues, and to be thank-
ful that they are not punished for their evil deeds,
rather than be so blatant of their own shame. I am
sorry to find you in favor of Mr. Seymour. He is
from my own State, but he is a blot upon it ; personally
he is a gentleman, — as far as a dough-face and a cop-
108 Old Times in Dixie Land.
per-head can be one. A few Northern politicians may,
for self-interest, humble themselves and praise traitors,
but the masses are as much disposed as ever to make
treason odious. The South ought not again to fall into
the error of 1860, and estrange their real friends-, and
irritate the Northern masses. We have undisguised
admiration for General Longstreet and his class who
became reconstructed and attend to business.
" I do not admire Mr. S. W. Conway nor other ad-
venturers in Louisiana, but their opponents are still
more unreasonable and unprincipled. It will take me
some time to become convinced that plantation negroes
will make good legislators. I have not been in favor
of negro suffrage, but now it seems the only expedient
left us for the reconstruction of the turbulent South.
All sorts of lies are trumped up by the Democrats
about Grant and Colfax. I always object to personal
abuse in a political controversy.
" I see my services will be no longer required in Louis-
iana, and my leave expires next month. I see with equal
clearness that beyond my immediate circle of friends
I shall scarcely be missed. How humbling to a con-
ceited man, who thinks himself essential,, to return and
find the household going on just as well without him ! "
With such amenities of intercourse between the con-
quered and the conquerors it may not seem to some ob-
servers extraordinary that reconstruction progressed so
slowly. Mr. Eichard Grant White said in the North
American Review respecting the great struggle of the
Sections : " The South had fought to maintain an
Our Federal Friends. 109
inequality of personal rights and an aristocratic form
of society. The North had fought, not in a crusade for
equality and against aristocracy, but for money — after
the first flush of enthusiasm caused by ' firing on the
flag' had subsided. The Federal Government was vic-
torious simply because it had the most men and the
most money. The Confederate cause failed simply
because its men and its money were exhausted; for no
other reason. Inequality came to an end in the South;
equality was established throughout the Union; but the
real victors were the money-makers, merchants, bank-
ers, manufacturers, railwaymen, monopolists and specu-
lators. It was their cause that had triumphed under
the banners of freedom."
Words cannot give so strong a confirmation of the
above as the fact of the South's pitiful 175,000 men
against the 1,000,000 men of the North mustered out
of service after the surrender. But it is not my purpose
to enter upon the history of the civil war farther than
it touched my own life.
" Write our story as you may,
but even you,
With your pen, could never write
Half the story of our land
" Warrior words — but even they
Fail as failed our men in gray ;
Fail to tell the story grand
Of our cause and of our land."
A pretty young creature said to her aged relative:
" Why, money can never make people happy ! "
no Old Times in Dixie Land.
" No, my child/' replied the old lady., " but it can
make them very comfortable." The South learned in
the direst way — through the want of it — the comfort
of money. It has learned also through the aggressions
of trusts and monopolies how comfortable and danger-
ous a thing money may prove to be to the liberties of a
people. It was during the war and soon after it that
vast fortunes were made at the North.
The South has long ago accepted its destiny as an in-
tegral element of the United States and the great Ameri-
can people. It has set its face resolutely forward with
historic purpose. It clings to its past only as its tra-
ditions and practices safe-guarded constitutional rights
and the integrity of a true republic. Its simpler so-
cial structure has enabled it to keep a clearer vision of
the purposes of our forefathers in government than the
North, with its tremendous infiltration of foreigners
ingrained with monarchical antecedents, and with the
complex interests of many classes. Never, perhaps, so
much as now has a " solid South " been needed to help
to keep alive the principles of true democracy. But
" old, sore cankering wounds that pierced and stung, —
throb no longer."
Money is comfort, but love is happiness. The love
of one God and a common country " has welded fast the
links which war had broken."
•The negro question of the South has become the
problem of the nation. This is retributive justice; for
the North introduced slavery into the colonial provinces,
and sold the slaves to the South when they had ceased
to be profitable in Massachusetts. The South found
Our Federal Friends. in
them remunerative and kept them. This branch of the
subject ma}' be dismissed with the reflection that it is
a disposition common to humanity to use any sort of so-
phistry to excuse or palliate bias of feeling and depar-
tures in conduct from the right way. Everybody —
North and South — is equally glad that slavery is now
abolished, notwithstanding differences of opinion as to
the methods by which it was accomplished.
Judge Tourgee, in his " Fool's Errand," said : " The
negroes were brought here against their will. They
have learned in hvo hundred years the rudiments of
civilization, the alphabet of religion, law,, mechanic arts,
husbandry. Freed without any great exertion upon
their part, enfranchised without any intelligent or in-
dependent cooperation — no wonder they deem them-
selves the special pets of Providence." Seven years ago
when cotton was selling for four cents a pound and
starvation was staring in the face alike the planter and
the negro tenant, the owner of a large plantation said
to one of her old slaves : " Oh, these are dreadful
times, Maria ! How are we to live through them ! I'm
distressed for the people on the place. I fear they will
suffer this winter ! " " Lor, Miss Annie," Maria re-
plied, " I ain't 'sturbin' my mine 'bout it. White folks
dun tuk keer me all my life an' I spec's they gwine ter
keep on ter the eend ! " The negro Providence is
" white folks." If they seem a bit slow in doling out
to their desire they know how to help themselves, and
it is well they do.
The sudden freedom of the black man as a war
measure and his enfranchisement as a political neces-
ii2 Old Times in Dixie Land.
sity of the Kepublican party was a social earthquake
for the South and a sort of moral cataclysm for the
North. The one was too stunned by the shock, the
other too delirious with success to be able to grasp the
portent of such an event in the national life. The
North approached it with abolition, fanaticism, and ex-
pected the liberated slave to be an ally of freedom of
which he had no true conception. The South was an
instinctive and hereditary ruler, and the freedman was
overrunning its daily life and traditions. It is not
wonderful that the negro has suffered in this conflict
of antagonistic ideas.
The enfranchisement of the old slave has set back
the development of the South for a generation, because
it has been compelled to gauge all its movements on the
race line. It has hindered the North for an equal
time because the political value of the colored brother
to the Kepublican party has seemed to overshadow every
other phase of his development. But schooling and
training can remodel even the prejudices of intelligent
minds and sincere natures. Thirty-five years of mis-
takes have convinced both North and South that the
negro has been long enough sacrificed to political in-
Those only who have long lived where the negro
equals or outnumbers the white population can under-
stand his character, and the grave problem now confront-
ing this nation.
The danger of enfranchising a large class unin-
structcd in the duties of citizenship and totally igno-
rant of any principles of government, will prove an ex-
Our Federal Friends. 113
periment not in vain if it enforces on the people of the
United States the necessity to restrict suffrage to those
who are trained in the knowledge and spirit of Ameri-
can institutions. It should serve to emphasize the un-
wisdom and injustice of denying the ballot because of
sex to one half of its American born citizens who, by
education and patriotism, are qualified for the highest
citizenship. Our government will never become truly
democratic until it lives up to its own principles, " No
taxation without representation, no government without
the consent of the governed." Suffrage should be the
privilege of those only who have acquired a right to it by
educating themselves for its responsibilities. A proper
educational qualification for the ballot, without sex or
color lines, would actualize our vision of " a government
for the people, of the people and by the people," and
would eliminate the ignorant foreigner of all nationali-
ties and colors, as well as the white American who is too
indolent or unintelligent to fit himself for the duties
Happily the true friend of the Afro-Americans,
North and South, begins to distinguish between their
accidental and their permanent well-being. The negro
himself is coming to realize that he must make the peo-
ple with whom he lives his best friends ; that the condi-
tions which are for the good of the whites of his com-
munity are good for him; that his development must
be economic instead of political; that only as he learns
to cope with the Anglo-Saxon as a breadwinner will he
become truly a freed man.
• The African in the South is better off than any
H4 Old Times in Dixie Land.
laboring class on earth. His industrial conditions have
less stress in them. He is seldom out of work unless
by his own choice or inefficiency. The climate is in
his favor. In the agricultural districts land is cheap
for purchase or rent. Gardens, stock, poultry and
fruit are easily at his command. For little effort he
is well clothed and well fed. Fuel costs him only the
gathering. The soil responds freely to his careless cul-
tivation. In the trades no distinctions are made be-
tween the white and the colored mechanic as to wages or
opportunity. There is no economic prejudice against
him; he is freely employed by the whites even as a con-
tractor. But the Southern white will " ride alone " —
even in a hearse — rather than ride with the negro so-
cially outside the electric cars. Otherwise his old mas-
ter is the negro's best friend. A study of the State
Eeport of Education will convince the most skeptical
that the public school fund is divided proportionally
with the colored schools, though the whites pay nearly
the whole tax. Besides, while Ohio, and perhaps other
Northern States, prohibit negro teachers in the public
schools, the South, with a view to rewarding as well as
stimulating the ambition of the student, gives the pref-
erence to colored teachers for their own schools.
Removed from the arena of politics the black man
has no real enemy but himself. It will not do to judge
the masses by the few who have been able to lift them-
selves above their fellows. Their religion is emotional,
often without moral standards. Some of them are in-
dolent, improvident and shiftless to a degree that large-
ly affects white prosperity. But though they have
Our Federal Friends. 115
faults which do not even " lean to virtue's side/' they
are good-natured, teachable, forgiving, loving andl
The nation should look with encouragement and
gratitude to Booker T. Washington as the real Moses
who, by industrial education, proposes to lead his
people out of their real bondage. Only by making
themselves worthy will they be able to exist on kindly
terms with the white race. The same slow process of
the ages which has wrought out Anglo Saxon civiliza-
tion will elevate this race. Nature's law of growth for.
them, as for white people, is struggle. The fittest will
laura's death in the epidemic op '78.
The war fully ended and our city home recov-
ered, we removed to New Orleans. I devoted myself
wholly to my family and to domestic affairs. Friends
gathered about us and some delightful people made our
neighborhood very pleasant. It was in my present
home that my daughter Laura was married to Louis J.
Bright, and soon after, Clara was united to James B.
Guthrie; both young men were settled in New Orleans,
so that I was spared the pain of total separation. My
son David established himself on his own plantation in
Point Coupe, and soon after married Miss Lula Dow-
dell of Alabama. Our summers were spent alternately
in Myrtle Grove and the North, or the Virginia Springs.
Mothers are usually held responsible for the short-
comings of their children. Sometimes this is just, but
children often cruelly misrepresent good parents. It
should never be forgotten that mothers and children are
very human, and that the vocation upon which young
people enter with least training is parenthood. Chil-
dren and parents get their training together. It takes
love and wisdom and proper environment to bring both
to their best; but sometimes evil hereditary and vicious
social institutions prove stronger than all of these com-
Laura's Death. 117
binecl forces of the home. 'The nation can never know
the power and beauty of the mother until it evolves a
true protective tenderness for the child, and encom-
passes it with safest conditions for its development.
It is a growing wonder that women have borne so long
in silence the existence of establishments which the
State fosters to the debasement of their sons. Only
the habit of subjection — the legacy of the ages — could
have produced this pathetic stoicism. If a horse knew
his strength, no man could control him. When women
realize their God-given power, the community in which
their children are born will not tempt them to their
death by the open saloon, the gambling den and the
haunt of shame. Until that happy time the inexhausti-
ble supply of love and sympathy which goes out from the
mother-heart is the child's chiefest shelter. Obedience
is what parents should exact from infants if they expect
it from grown children. The slaves of the severer mas-
ters stayed with them during the war, when those of
indulgent ones ran away. It is the petted, spoiled
darlings whose ultimate " ingratitude is sharper than
the serpent's tooth."
When friends were won by my daughters it was grati-
fying to me, for it proved that the womanly accom-
plishment of making themselves beloved was a lesson
they had laid to heart — and they had learned it by
their own fireside where love ruled and reigned. I was
glad in all my children, and a devoted mother is sure of
her ultimate reward. I was very proud when Clara
replied to a friend who expressed surprise that she
should visit me on my reception day: "I should be
n8 Old Times in Dixie Land.
happy to claim a half-hour of my mother's society if
she were not related to me." I was very content with
my two daughters happily married and settled near me
— doubly mine by the tie of congenial tastes and pur-
In 1878 my household had gone North for the sum-
mer. On September 1st a telegram reached me at Wil-
braham, Mass., saying, " Laura died at 12 o'clock, M."
I had plead with her to leave New Orleans with me, but
in her self-sacrificing devotion to her husband, who was
never willing that she should be absent from him, she
remained at home and fell a victim in the great yellow
Previous to her marriage she had spent all her sum-
mers in the country or in travel, and was wholly unac-
climated. Clara wrote thus to Captain S. M. Thomas
from Sewanee, Tenn., in September of that dreadful
year : " The pity of it, Uncle Milton ! You will un-
derstand how it is with us at this time. Mother is
broken-hearted. You have ever been a large figure in
Laura's and my girlhood recollections, and mother asks
me to write to you. Laura Ellen's death was just as
painful as it could be. Father and mother were in
Wilbraham, and every one of us gone but dear, good
cousin Louise Brewer, and Louis — her husband. Oh!
he made a terrible mistake in remaining in that doomed
city. I have an added pang that I shall carry with
me till I too go away — that I was not with her in her
" The dear girl wrote daily to mother, David, and
me, until death snatched away her pen. ' Fear not for
Laura's Death. 119
me, dearest mother/ was on her last postal card. ' My
trust is in God/ It were enough to make an angel
weep if the true history of this awful summer could be
written. Our grief is without any alleviation — unless
in sister's beautiful character and Christian life. If
I had been there I should have tried with superhuman
efforts to hold her back from death. It was Sunday —
and Dr. Walker dismissed his congregation at Felicity
church to go, at her request, to her deathbed. He has
told us of her great faith, her willingness to go, the per-
fect clearness of her mind, and the calm fortitude she
manifested even when she kissed her children good-by,
Breathing softly she went to sleep and closed her sweet
blue eyes on this world — forever.
" Cousin Louise says Louis was nearly frantic. It is
a terrible blow, and he has the added pain of knowing
it might have been different but for the fatal mistake
of judgment which brought such awful results. I have
to school myself, and fight every day a new battle for
calmness and resignation. I shall never grow accus-
tomed to the hard fact that her bright and heavenly
presence must be forever wanting in her own home, and
shall never again grace mine. She died saying, l Jesus
is with me ! ' Well He might be, for she died, as He,
sacrificing herself for others."
There was no one too old or too poor, or too uninter-
esting to receive Laura's attention. Sometimes this
disposition annoyed me; but though I did not always
recognize it, she was always living out the divine al-
truism of Christ. She was ever active in charities and
a useful director of St. Ann's Asylum.
120 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Among many others I gather the following expres-
sions in letters from those who had known her inti-
mately : " Nobody feared her, everybody loved her.
She was an angel for forgiving. The brightness in her
life came from the angelic cheerfulness of her own
soul, which would not yield to outward conditions. She
had an infinite capacity for getting joy out of barren
places." — " I do not hope to know again a nature so
blended in sweetness and strength. It is no common
chance that takes away a noble mind — so full of meek-
ness yet with so much to justify self-assertion. There
was an atmosphere of grace, mercy and peace floating
about her, edifying and delighting all who came near."
Coming from a long line of tender, gentle, saintly
women — the Brewers on the Merrick side — she belonged
to that type celebrated in story and embalmed in song,
of which nearly every generation of Brewers has pro-
duced at least one representative human angel.
A more than full measure of days has convinced me
that among our permanent joys are the friends who
have drifted with our own life current. In addition to
the pleasure of communion with lofty and sympathetic
spirits such friendships have the " tendency to bring the
character into finer life." " A new friend," says Em-
erson, " entering our house is an era in our true his-
tory." Our friends illustrate the course of our conduct.
It is the progress of our character that draws them
about us. Among those friends whom the struggling
years after the war brought to me was Mrs. Anita
Waugh, a Boston woman; a sojourner in Europe while
her father was U. S. Minister to Greece,, a long-time
Laura's Death. 121
resident of Cuba, and, during the period in which I
made her acquaintance, a teacher in New Orleans. In
an old letter to one of my children I find : " Mrs.
Waugh makes much of your mother. She is happier
for having known me. I have been helped by her to
some knowledge from the vast store-house which may
never be taken account of — still I here make the ac-
Frances Willard said of her, " She is rarely gifted,
and I enjoy her thought — so different from my own
practical life. She is a seer (see-er) ! "
Her wide acquaintance with remarkable people in-
vested her with rare interest. In one of her many let-
ters to me, dated in 1873, she says with fine catholicity
of spirit and exceptional insight : " I think the so-called
religious world lays too much stress on the infidelity of
such men as Tyndall and Huxley and Spencer. They
have not reached the point in their spiritual growth
where knowledge opens the domain of real, pure wor-
ship; they are in a transition period, are still groping
about in a world of effects, living in a world of results
of which they have not yet found the cause. Spencer
has given the most masterly exposition of the nervous
system which has yet been made. The next step would
have been into the domain of the spiritual. Here he
stopped, because his mind has not yet reached the degree
of development in which the utterances of truth per-
ceived becomes the highest duty. When he shall have
rounded and brought up all of bis studies to a point
equally advanced with his Psychology then he will be
obliged to say, " My God and my Lord ! ' I hope he may
122 Old Times in Dixie Land.
soon, as Longfellow said, ' Touch God's right hand in
the darkness/ "
Science — and the Church — did not long have to wait
for the Wallace and Henry Drummond of Mrs. Waugh's
During repeated visits to the Yellow Sulphur Springs
in Virginia, Mr. Merrick and I were seated at table with
the famous Confederate Commanders, General Jubal
Early and General G. T. Beauregard, who had become
additionally conspicuous by their connection with the
Louisiana lottery. General Beauregard called fre-
quently upon us, and I met him also at Waukesha,
in Wisconsin. He was very kind to me, and greatly
enjoyed hearing some of my nonsensical dialect read-
ings. At the latter place the women were much im-
pressed by his handsome and distinguished appear-
ance and manners. When he called at my hotel many
of them were eager in their entreaties to be introduced ;
our gallant general would bow graciously, but they
were not to be satisfied unless he would also take them
by the hand.
On February 24, 1893, General Beauregard was lying
in state on his bier in the City Hall of New Orleans, and
I was holding a convention of the Louisiana W. C. T. IT.
I could not help alluding to the death of this beloved
old soldier, and I asked the women to go and look upon
his handsome face for the last time. He was a perfect
type of his class — courtly, generous, chivalrous. He
had been in the Mexican war, and was the only general
of the old Confederacy who belonged in New Orleans.
The hearts of the people were touched, and when the
Laura's Death. 123
meeting adjourned many groups of W. C. T. TJ. women
were added to the crowds who went to look their last
upon the face of the dead. Miss Points was pleased to
say in the New Orleans Picayune : " It was a beautiful
act on the part of our women; and it acquired a new
significance and beauty in that it was the outgrowth of
the strong friendship and appreciation of the wife of
the distinguished man who was our Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court in the days of the Confederacy." This
was a tribute which she reminded them to offer to one
of the dead heroes of our late war between the states!
" The great effort of courage I have made in my life
was going in a skiff in an overflow, with Stephen and
Allen, two inexperienced negro rowers, to Eed Eiver
Landing in order to reach a steamboat for New Orleans,
where, at the close of the war, I wanted to get supplies
for my family and for my neighbors, who were in ex-
tremities by reason of the crevasse. That was an act
of bravery — hunger forced it — which astonished into
exclamation the captain of a Federal gunboat, Capt.
Edward P. Lull, who made me take the oath of allegi-
ance before I could leave. You know how afraid I am
of water and of any little boat ; but give men or women
a sufficiently powerful motive and they can do any-
A FIEST SPEECH AND SOME NOTED WOMEN.
In those broken-hearted days Clara said with a pa-
thetic earnestness : " Now I must try to be two daughters
to you. You have not lost all your children — only your
best child." We drew nearer and more mutually de-
pendent as time passed, each trying to fill the awful
void for the other. How could I dream that the insa-
tiable archer was only waiting, with fatal dart in rest,
to claim another victim? We made common joy as
well as sorrow, and tried to lead each other out into the
sunlit places, the simple pleasures of home and social
Early in the year 1897 a State Constitutional Con-
vention was assembled in New Orleans. The legal in-
equality of woman in Louisiana had already challenged
the notice of some women, and a recent incident was
outraging the hearts of a few who had the vision of seers.
The Board of Control of St. Ann's Asylum — an insti-
tution in New Orleans for the relief of destitute women
and children — was composed entirely of women. A
German inmate on her deathbed revealed that she had
$1,000 in bank, and by a will, witnessed by members of
the Board, she bequeathed it to the institution which
Some Noted Women. 125
had sheltered her. On submission of the will to pro-
bate, the ladies were informed that it was invalid, be-
cause a woman was not a legal witness to a will. The
bequest went to the State — and the women went to
thinking and agitating.
Mrs. Elizabeth L. Saxon urged that we should appear
before the Convention with our grievances. I did not
feel equal to such an effort, but Mrs. Saxon said : " In-
stead of grieving yourself to death for your daughter
who is gone, rise up out of the ashes and do something
for the other women who are left ! " My husband in-
sisted that, having always wanted to do something for
women, now was my opportunity. Mrs. Saxon and I
drew up the following petition :
" To the Honorable President and Members of the
Convention of the State of Louisiana, convened for the
purpose of framing a new Constitution :
" Petition of the undersigned, citizens of the State of
Louisiana, respectfully represents:
" That up to the present time, all women, of whatever
age or capacity, have been debarred from the right of
representation, notwithstanding the burdensome taxes
which they have paid.
" They have been excluded from holding office save
in cases of special tutorship in limited degree — or of
administration only in specified cases.
" They have been debarred from being witnesses in
wills or notarial acts, even when executed by their own
" They look upon this condition of things as a griev-
126 Old Times in Dixie Land.
ance proper to be brought before your honorable body
for consideration and relief.
" As a question of civilization, we look upon the en-
franchisement of women as an all important one. In
Wyoming, where it has been tried for ten years, the
Lawmakers and Clergy unite in declaring that this in-
flux of women voters has done more to promote law,
morality and order, than thousands of armed men could
" Should the entire franchise seem too extended a
privilege, we most earnestly urge the adoption of a prop-
erty qualification, and that women may also be allowed
a vote on school and educational matters, involving as
they do the interests of women and children in a great
" So large a proportion of the taxes of Louisiana is
paid by women, many of them without male representa-
tives, that in granting consideration and relief for griev-
ances herein complained of, the people will recognize
Justice and Equity; that to woman as well as man
' taxation without representation is tyranny,' she being
' a person, a citizen, a freeholder, a taxpayer,' the same
as man, only the government has never held out the
same fostering, protecting hand to all alike, nor ever
will, until women are directly represented.
" Wherefore, we, your petitioners, pray that some
suitable provision remedying these evils be incorporated
in the Constitution you are about to frame."
Four hundred influential names were secured to the
petition, Mrs. Saxon, almost unaided, having gained
three hundred of them. It was sent to the Convention
Some Noted Women. 127
and referred to the Committee on Suffrage, which on
May 7 invited the ladies to a conference at the St.
Charles Hotel. Mrs. Mollie Moore Davis, Colonel and
Mrs. John M. Sandige, Mr. and Mrs. Saxon were pres-
ent. Dr. Harriette C. Keating, a representative woman
in professional life, Mrs. Elizabeth L. Saxon, already a
well-known and fearless reformer, and Caroline E.
Merrick, as the voice of home, were chosen to appear be-
fore the Convention on the evening of June 16, 1879.
Eighty-six members of the Convention were present; a
half hundred representatives of " lovely woman " were
there. Mrs. Myra Clark Gaines, the celebrated litigant,
with a few other notables, occupied the middle of the
floor, and youth and beauty retired into a corner. Mr.
Poche, chairman of the Suffrage Committee, and after-
ward a member of the Supreme Court of the State,
asked me if I were afraid. " Afraid," I said, " is not
the word. I'm. scared almost to death ! " He tried to
encourage me by recounting the terrors of many men
Mrs. Keating was first introduced, and, at the Secre-
tary's desk, in a clear voice, with dignified self-posses-
sion set forth the capabilities of women for mastering
political science sufficiently to vote intelligently on
questions of the day. Mrs. Saxon following, was greeted
with an outburst of welcome. She reviewed the cus-
toms of various nations to which women were required
to conform, and called attention to the fact that the
party which favored woman suffrage would poll twelve
million votes. She made clear that the fact of sex
could not qualify or disqualify for an intelligent vote:
128 Old Times in Dixie Land.
she mentioned that numbers of women had told her they
wanted to be present that night, but their husbands
would not permit them to come.
Mrs. Elizabeth Lyle Saxon is a woman possessed of
fine intellect and an uncommonly warm and generous
nature. She was a pioneer in the Suffrage Cause in the
South, and has ably represented its interests in National
gatherings. She was sent as delegate from this State
to the International Suffrage Association of the World's
Auxiliary Congress in 1893. All along the way she
has given of her best with whole-hearted zeal to further
the cause of women, and should claim the undying grati-
tude of those for whom she has helped to build the
bridges of human equality.
Mr. Bobertson, of St. Landry, then offered the reso-
lution : " Resolved, That the Committee on elective
franchise be directed to embody in the articles upon suf-
frage reported to this Convention, a provision giving the
right of suffrage to women upon the same terms as to
Under the rules this resolution had to lie over.
Fearing that I could not be heard, I had proposed
that Mr. Jas. B. Guthrie, my son-in-law, should read my
speech. But Mrs. Saxon said : " You do not wish a
man to represent } r ou at the polls; represent yourself
now, if you only stand up and move your lips." " I
will," I said. " You are right." The following is my
address in part :
" Mr. President and Delegates of the Convention :
" When we remember the persistent and aggressive
efforts which our energetic sisters of the North have
Some Noted Women. 129
exerted for so many years in their struggle before they
could obtain a hearing from any legislative assembly,
we find ourselves lost in a pleasing astonishment at the
graciousness which beams upon us here from all quar-
ters. Should we even now be remanded to our places,
and our petition meet with an utter refusal, we should
be grieved to the heart, we should be sorely disappointed,
but we never could cherish the least feeling of rebellious
spite toward this convention of men, who have shown
themselves so respectful and considerate toward the
women of Louisiana.
" Perhaps some of the gentlemen thought we did not
possess the moral courage to venture even thus far from
the retirement in which we have always preferred to
dwell. Be assured that a resolute and conscientious wo-
man can put aside her individual preferences at the call
of duty, and act unselfishly for the good of others.
" The ladies who have already addressed you have
given you unanswerable arguments, and in eloquent
language have made their appeal, to which you could
not have been insensible or indifferent. It only re-
mains for me to give you some of my own individual
views in the few words which are to conclude this inter-
" The laws on the statute books permit us to own prop-
erty and enjoy its revenues, but do not permit us to
say who shall collect the taxes. We are thus compelled
to assist in the support of the State in an enforced way,
when we ourselves would greatly prefer to do the same
thing with our own intelligent, free consent.
" We know this Eepublic has been lauded in the old
130 Old Times in Dixie Land.
times of the Fourth of July orations as the freest, best
government the world ever saw. If women, the better
half of humanity, were allowed a voice and influence in
its councils, I believe it would be restored to its purity
and ancient glory; and a nobler patriotism would be
brought to life in the heart of this nation.
" It seems to me that there ought to be a time, to
which we may look forward with satisfaction, when we
shall cease to be minors, when the sympathy and assist-
ance we are so capable of furnishing in the domestic
relation, may in a smaller degree be available for the
good and economical management of public affairs. It
really appears strange to us, after we have brought up
children and regulated our houses, where often we have
the entire responsibility, with money and valuables
placed in our charge, that a man can be found who would
humiliate us by expressing an absolute fear to trust us
with the ballot.
" In many nations there is an army of earnest,
thoughtful, large-hearted women, working day and night
to elevate their sex; for their higher education; to
open new avenues for their industrious hands; trying
to make women helpers to man, instead of millstones
round his neck to sink him in his life struggle.
" Ah, if we could only infuse into your souls the
courage which we, constitutionally timid as we are, now
feel on this subject, you would not only dare but hasten
to perform this act of justice and inaugurate the be-
ginning of the end which all but the blind can see is
surely and steadily approaching. We are willing to ac-
cept anything. We have always been in the position of
Some Noted Women. 131
beggars, as now, and cannot be choosers if we wished.
We shall gladly accept the franchise on any terms, pro-
vided they be wholly and entirely honorable. If you
should see proper to subject us to an educational test,
even of a high order, we would try to attain it; if you
require a considerable property qualification, we would
not complain. We would be only too grateful for any
amelioration of o*ir legal disabilities. Allow me to
ask, are we less prepared for the intelligent exercise of
the right of suffrage than were the freedmen when it
was suddenly conferred upon them ?
" Perhaps you think only a few of us desire the ballot.
Even if this were true, we think it would not be any
sufficient reason for withholding it. In old times most
of our slaves were happy and contented. Under the
rule of good and humane masters, they gave themselves
no trouble to grasp after the unattainable freedom
which was beyond their reach. So it is with us to-day.
We are happy and kindly treated (as witness our recep-
tion to-night), and in the enjoyment of the numerous
privileges which our chivalrous gentlemen are so ready
to accord; many of us who feel a wish for freedom do
not venture even to whisper a single word about our
rights. For the last twenty-five years I have occasion-
ally expressed a wish to vote, and it was always received
with surprise; but the sort of effect produced was as
different as the characters of the individuals with whom
I conversed. I cannot see how the simple act of voting
can hurt or injure a true and noble woman any more
than it degrades the brave and honorable man.
"Gentlemen of the Convention, we now leave our
132 Old Times in Dixie Land.
cause in your hands, and commend it to your favorable
consideration. We have pointed out to you the signs
of the dawning of a better day for woman, which are
so plain before our eyes, and implore you to reach out
your hands and help us to establish that free and equal
companionship which God ordained in the beginning in
the Garden of Eden before the serpent came and curses
Mrs. Sarah A. Dorsey was prevented by illness, which
terminated fatally, from appearing personally, but sent
a letter which was read before the Convention by Col.
John M. Sandige. She advanced, among others, the
following ideas : " Being left by the fiat of God en-
tirely alone in the world, with no man to represent me ;
having large interests in the State, and no voice either
in representation or taxation, while hundreds of my
negro lessees vote and control my life and property, I
feel that I ought to say one word that may aid many
other women whom fate has left equally destitute. I
ask representation for taxation — for my sisters and for
the future race. We do not expect to do men's work,
we can never pass the limits which nature herself has set.
But we ask for justice; we ask for the removal of un-
natural restrictions that are contrary to the elemental
spirit of the civil law ; we do not ask for rights, but for
permission to assume our natural responsibilities."
Mrs. Dorsey was a native of Mississippi, and became
widely conspicuous by reason of the bequest of her home,
Beauvoir, and other personal property, to Mr. Jefferson
Davis. She made this will because, as mentioned in
the document, " I do not intend to share in the ingrati-
Some Noted Women. 133
tilde of my country toward the man who is, in my eyes,
the highest and noblest in existence." Mrs. Elisha
Warfield, of Kentucky, was the aunt of Mrs. Dorsey,
and the author of the novel " Beauvoir," from which
the plantation was named, and which estate Mrs. Dorsey
devoted to the cultivation of oranges. She was a rarely
gifted woman. Besides the usual accomplishments of
women of her day, she possessed remarkable musical
skill, and was a pupil of Bochsa, owning the harp which
he had taught her to handle as a master. She was a
writer of power and had studied law and book-keeping.
A friend who was present in her last illness wrote me:
" She appeared to greater advantage in her home than
anywhere else. She was of those whom one comes to
know soon and to love; and is one of the many who
have passed on, with whom the meeting again is looked
forward to with true delight."
When the new Constitution was promulgated it con-
tained but one little concession to women : " Art. 232.
— Women twenty-one years of age and upwards shall be
eligible to any office of control or management under
the school laws of the State."
The women of Louisiana have realized no advantage
from this law. Their first demand was for a place on
the school board of New Orleans, in 1885. The gov-
ernor fills by appointment all school offices. Gov. Mc-
Enery ruled that Art. 232 of the Constitution was in-
operative until there should be legislation to enforce it,
the existing statutes of Louisiana barring a woman
from acting independent of her husband, and would
make the husband of a married woman a co-appointee
134 Old Times in Dixie Land.
to any public office; that a repeal of this in solido stat-
ute was necessary before he could place a woman on the
Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton's seventieth birthday
was on Nov. 12 of this year. In her honor a special re-
ception was held by the Woman's Club of New Orleans.
I here reviewed the action of the governor in a paper
which set forth the following points: First, that the
Constitution is imperative; that legislation for its self-
acting and absolute provisions would be to place the
creature in control of the creator. Second, that the
legislature had no jurisdiction over the eligibility of
women to appointment on school boards, as the Consti-
tution had explicitly declared that " women twenty-one
and upwards shall be eligible." Third, if the gov-
ernor's objection against married women were valid it
had no force against unmarried women and widows.
Protest, however, proved futile. No succeeding gov-
ernor appointed a woman, so no test case was ever made,
and the Constitutional Convention of 1898 repealed this
little shadow of justice to women, even in the face of
the fact that at the time the small concession was made
one-half of the 80,000 children in the public schools of
New Orleans were girls, and 368 out of the 389 teach-
ers were women.
In 1880 I met General and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, at
a private reception given at the home of Hon. Walker
Fearn, in New Orleans. The General was a hand-
some, soldierly man. I told him that we had mutual
Some Noted Women. 135
friends, and named Bishop Simpson, whom, with his
wife, I had entertained, and liked because of his liberal
views toward women. " That," said General Grant,
" is what I object to." " Oh, General," I answered, " I
hope that you would not be unwilling that we should
have the ballot?" "No, Mrs. Merrick, I should not
be unwilling that you and Mrs. Grant should vote, but
I should seriously object to confer that responsibilty on
Bridget, your cook." I had always heard that General
Grant could not talk, and was surprised to find nim so
genial and agreeable. Knowing me to be a Southern
woman, he questioned me keenly and intelligently about
the people of my section. I had a half -hour of delight-
ful conversation with him, which he, equally with .my-
self, seemed to enjoy.
During the year 1881 Miss Genevieve Ward was filling
an engagement at the Grand Opera House in New Or-
leans. This winning actress was a descendant of Jona-
than Edwards, the renowned Puritan preacher, and at
that time was in her prime. At the request of her hus-
band^ relatives in New York, my daughter entertained
this famous lady at a lunch party, where I was pres-
ent. We found her a dignified, modest woman, and,
like Charlotte Cushman, above reproach. She was an
intimate friend of the great Ristori. Among our twelve
guests was Geo. W. Cable, already become famous. His.
last book, with all of our autographs in it, was given to
Miss Ward as a souvenir of the occasion.
My daughter had known Mr. Cable in his early lit-
erary ventures. He sometimes brought chapters of his
manuscript to read to her. The South realized at once
136 Old Times in Dixie Land.
that a new literary artist had arisen out of its sea of
ruin. That he wounded the feelings of some of his
people is largely attributable to the fact that he spoke
inopportunely; his work was cast upon the tolerance of
public opinion when every nerve was bleeding and
every heart hypersensitive to suggestion or criticism. It
was too early an expression, and fell upon bristling
points of indignant protest. But that he deeply loved
his own city and people the most prejudiced can scarcely
doubt, now that the perspective of three decades has
softened the asperities of judgment. Only a soul that
had made it his own could picture as he has done the
silence, the weirdness, the majesty of the moss-draped
swamps of lower Louisiana, the crimson and purple of
the sunsets mirrored upon the glistening surface of her
black, shallow bayous, — the sparse and flitting pres-
ence of man and beast and bird across this still-life
making it but the more desolate. Cable was the first
to see the rich types afforded to literature in the charac-
ter, condition and history of the Creoles, and he has
transformed them into immortals. Only love can cre-
ate " pictures of life so exquisitely clear, delicately
tender or tragically sorrowful " as he has made of the
Latin-Americans. The South has already forgiven his
historical frankness in its pride in the artist who has
preserved for the future the romance, and color, and
beauty of a race that, like so much else lovable and
poetic and inspiring in our early history, by the end of
another century will be blended indistinguishably with
the less picturesque but all-prevailing type that is de-
termining an American people.
Some Noted Women. 137
I had been so impressed by his genius that I could
not withhold from him my word of appreciation, and
received in 1879 the following reply to my note : " I
want to say to you that you are the first Southerner who
has expressed gratitude to the author of ' Old Creole
Days ' for telling the truth. That has been my ambi-
tion, and to be recognized as having done it a little
more faithfully than most Southern writers is a source
of as hearty satisfaction as I have ever enjoyed. How
full our South is of the richest material for the story
" G. W. Cable."
About this time Clara and the author of " Innocents
Abroad " were guests together in the same home in
Buffalo, New York, from which place she wrote me:
" He is a wonderfully liberal yet clever talker. I
think I shall be able to d-r-a-w-1 like him by two o'clock
to-morrow, when he leaves. He has written in my Em-
erson birthday book. When he found the selection for
November 30th to be that high and severely noble type
of an ideal gentleman, he laughed at its inappropri-
ateness, and said : * With my antecedents and associa-
tions it is impossible that I can be a gentleman, as I
often tell my wife — to her furious indignation ; ' — so
he signs himself ' S. L. Clemens, nee Mark Twain/ in
allusion to his early career as a pilot, and the name by
which the world first knew him. I like him immensely,
and shall doubtless weary you some morning with a re-
production of his numerous unfoldings."
I also met Mr. Clemens socially at Mr. Cable's house.
138 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Many years before, I had seen Charlotte Cushman in
the White Mountains. We were one day together in the
same stage. An opportunity offering, with much de-
light Miss Cushman mounted to the top. She made her
first appearance as Lady Macbeth in New Orleans. She
looked the " Meg Merrilies " she had re-created for the
world, — a vigorous woman in mind, body and character,
and a gifted talker; nobody else was' listened to when
she was present. She bore in her face the earnestness
of her spirit, the tragedy of her struggles, the intensity
of her sympathy and the calm strength of her success.
Not long before her death I met Mrs. Eliza Leslie in
Philadelphia. I was exceedingly glad of this oppor-
tunity, for she was one of the few premature women
who had a message to give, and who did give it, notwith-
standing in doing so she had to bear the disgrace of
being a " blue-stocking." She was a very quiet and
dignified woman. I saw that she was quite bored by
the loud talking of some small literary pretenders who
were endeavoring to astonish her by their remarks on
French drama. One offered to read to her an original
poem, and the others assured her that she alone of
American women was capable of rendering the .true
spirit of a French play. She talked with me about the
South. She said she was glad to know that she had
Southern readers and friends, and that if ever she vis-
ited the South it would be without prejudices. I
thought of her sweet dishes, and I longed to ask her
about the size of that " piece of butter as big as a
hickory-nut " which, along with a gill of rosewater,
her cook-book constantly recommended, to my as con-
Some Noted Women. 139
stant perplexity and amusement. (Query — What
The next year in February, 1882, I dined at Mrs.
Guthrie's with Edwin Booth and his daughter Edwina.
He was then at his best, and forty-nine years of age. I
saw him at that time as Hamlet. He was a very modest
man and dreaded after-dinner speeches, saying they
gave him a stage-fright, and that he always tried to sit
by a guest who would promise to take his place when he
could not say anything. He was shown a rare edition
of Shakespere, and a disputed point being introduced,
he read several pages aloud with remarkable effect,
though reading in private was contrary to his habit.
The day was Sunday, and he mentioned how delightful
it was to him to be in a quiet Christian home during
the sacred hours. Booth acquired no mannerisms with
age. His art so mastered him — or he mastered it — that
his simplicity of style increased with years, which im-
plies that his character grew with his fame.
Without being a habitue of the theater, I have en-
joyed it from time to time all along my life-road.
There is undoubtedly much to object to in the modern
stage. Its personnel, methods of presentation and the
character of many of the plays should call down just
and strong censure. But it seems to me no more wrong
to act a drama than to write one. Faith in humanity
and in the ultimate triumph of good leads me to the
conclusion that if the better people directed patient,
believing effort to the purification of the stage, the time
would come when histrionic genius would be recognized
and cherished to its full value; and the best people
140 Old Times in Dixie Land.
would control the theater, and would crowd from it
those debasing dramas which, as never before in our
day, are having the encouragement of the leading social
classes. It is time something were done — and the right
thing — to make it at least "bad form" that young
men and women should witness together the broadly
immoral plays that have of late so much shocked all
right-minded people. If one generation tolerates the
breaking down of moral barriers in public thought, the
next generation may witness in equal degree the de-
struction of personal morality. The stage is but the
expression of an instinctive human passion to imperso-
nate. Masquerading is the favorite game of every nur-
sery. It has been well said that " a great human ac-
tivity sustained through many decades always has some
deep and vital impulse behind it; misuse and abuse of
every kind cannot hide that fact and ought not to hide
it." An instinct cannot be destroyed, but it may be
directed — and nature is never immoral. Will the
church ever be able to discriminate between that which
is intrinsically wrong and that which is wrong by use
and misdirection, and will it set itself to study without
prejudice the whole question of public amusements
as a human necessity, bringing the divine law to their,
regeneration rather than to their condemnation? The
existence of any evil presupposes its remedy.
In June, 1881, I spoke by invitation before the Alum-
nse Association of Whitworth College, at Brookhaven,
Mississippi, — a venerable institution under the care of
the Methodist Episcopal Church South. I did not
give those young women strong doctrine, but I set be-
fore them the duty to
" Learn the mystery of progression truly : —
Nor dare to blame God's gifts for incompleteness."
Bishop Keener, the well-known opponent of women's
public work, sat beside me on the platform. When
the addresses were concluded, he pronounced them
" very good." " For women ? " I asked. " No/' he re-
turned, " for anybody ! " I treated the gentlemen to
some of the extemporaneous " sugar plums " which for
a half century they have been accustomed to shower
from the rostrum upon women — " just to let them see
how it sounded/' Though it was against the rules,
they applauded as if they were delighted.
I said : " Lest they should feel overlooked and
slighted, I will say a word to the men — God bless them.
Our hearts warm toward the manly angels — our Tulers,
guides, and protectors, to whom we confide all our
142 Old Times in Dixie Land.
troubles and on whom we lay all our burdens. Oh!
what a noble being is an honest, upright, fearless, gener-
ous, manly man ! How such men endear our firesides,
and adorn and bless our homes. How sweet is their
encouragement of our timid efforts in every good word
and work, and how grateful we are to be loved by these
noble comforters, and how utterly wretched and sad this
world would be, deprived of their honored and gracious
presence. Again, I say God bless the men."
This occasion was of moment to me, because it led
to one of the chief events of my life — my friendship
and work with Frances E. Willard. She had seen in
the New Orleans Times the address I made at Brook-
haven, and was moved to ask me if I could get her an
audience in my city, which she had already visited
without results. I had been invited to join the little
band enlisted by Mrs. Annie Wittenmeyer, the first presi-
dent of the National Woman's Christian Temperance
Union ; but I had declined, saying that this temperance
work was the most unpopular and hardest reform ever
attempted. However, I looked up the remnant of the
first society, and went with their good president Mrs.
Frances A. Lyons, to call on every minister in town,
requesting each to announce the date of Miss Willard's
address, and to urge upon their congregations that they
should hear her speak. We were uncommonly success-
ful, even that princely Christian, Eev. B. F. Palmer,
D. D., departing from the usual Presbyterian conserva-
tism. The result was a large audience in Carondelet
Methodist Church, of which Eev. Felix E. Hill was the
brave pastor ; — for it required no little moral courage at
Frances Willard. 143
that time to introduce a woman to speak, and to do it
in a church, and on a subject upon which the public
conscience was not only asleep, but which affronted even
many Christians' sense of personal liberty.
I remember that I remonstrated when Mass Willard
removed her bonnet and stood with uncovered head.
But I could find no fault with the noble expression of
serene sadness on her clear-cut features and with the
gentle humility and sweetness which emanated from her
entire personality. Heavenly sentiments dropped in
fitly chosen sentences with perfect utterance, as she
argued for the necessity of a clear brain and pure habits
in order to establish the Master's kingdom on earth.
The hearts of the people went out to her in spontaneous
sympathy and admiration; and the brethren were
ready to bid her God-speed, for they felt that this public
appearance was due to an impelling conviction that
would not let her be silent. Thus the New Orleans
Methodist Church, that indomitable pioneer of reform,
proclaimed " All hail ! to Frances Willard and the glo-
Some effort had been made to attain this success.
With Miss Willard's telegram in hand, I had despatched
a message to my son, Edwin T. Merrick, jr., and to the
W. C. T. TL, but the train arriving ahead of time, a
carriage brought the expected guest and her companion,
Miss Anna Gordon, to my door, where I alone received
and welcomed them. After weary travels over thou-
sands of miles and stoppages in a? many towns, they
were glad to rest a week in my home.. I had sent out hun-
dreds of cards for a reception. My house was thronged.
144 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Distinguished members of the bench, the bar, the pul-
pit, the press and the literary world were present, and a
large number of young women and men. Frances
Willard came to most of these as a revelation — this
unassuming, delicate, progressive woman, with her
sweet, intellectual face, her ready gaiety and her ex-
traordinarily enlarged sympathies, which seemed to put
her spirit at once in touch with every one who spoke to
her. She wore, I remember, a black brocaded silk and
point lace iichu. She ever had the right word in the
right place as she greeted each one who was presented.
She particularly desired to see Geo. W. Cable, who
was present with his wife. " This is our literary lion
to-night," I said. " Oh, no ! " he replied, " I come
nearer being your house cat ! " at which sally Miss Wil-
lard laughed. This visit was in March, 1882.
I did not attend all of Miss Willard' s meetings, and
was greatly surprised when on returning from one of
them she informed me that I was the president of the
W. C. T. U. of New Orleans. I protested, and let her
know I did not even have a membership in that body
of women, she herself being for me the only object of
interest in it. Finding that the source of power in my
family resided ultimately in the head of the house, she
wisely directed her persuasions in his direction. It was
not long before I was advised by Mr. Merrick to come to
terms and do whatever Miss Willard requested. This
was the beginning of my work in the Woman's Christian
Temperance Union and of a friendship which lasted
until God called this lovely and gifted being to come up
into a larger life.
Frances Willard. 145
Mrs. Hannah Whitehall Smith aptly styled Frances
Willard " one of God's best gifts to the American
womanhood of this century/' having done more to en-
large their sympathies, widen their outlook and develop
their mental aspirations, than any other individual of
our time. She inspired purpose and courage in every
heart. She said : " Sisters, we have no more need to be
-afraid of the step ahead of us than of the one we have
just taken." Women have been ridiculed for their con-
fidence in this glorious leader. It has been said that if
Frances Willard had pushed a thin plank over a preci-
pice, and had stepped out on it and said : " Come ! " the
White Eibbon host would have followed her to destruc-
tion. Yes, they certainly would have gone after her,
for they had unwavering faith that her planks were
safely lodged on solid foundations, plain to her clear
sight, even when invisible to the rest of the world. I
once told her that she had the fatal power attributed to
the maelstrom which swallowed up ships caught in the
circle of its attractions; that the women whom she
wished to enlist in her work were equally powerless to
resist her compelling force. She had a genius for
Nor were Miss Willard's powers of attraction con-
fined to her own sex. Her fascination for men of taste
was evident to the end of her blessed life. Their letters
of late date to her proved that " age could not wither
nor custom stale her infinite variety." Gifted men
loved to sit at her feet; she was kindly disposed to the
whole brotherhood. I have heard her say, " If there is
a spectacle more odious and distasteful to me than a
146 Old Times in Dixie Land.
man who hates women it is a woman who hates men."
She also said : " If there is anything on earth I covet
that pertains to men it is their self-respect." She com-
bined in her work a wonderful grasp on details and all
the attributes of a great general, and in her temperament
the intellectual and the emotional qualities. This woman
was capable of sympathy toward every human being;
she possessed the rare " fellowship of humanity," and
while she called out the best and noblest apirations in
others, she was herself the gentlest and humblest and
most ready to take reproof. She seemed incapable of
envy and jealousy, and it used to be said at National
Headquarters : " If you want a great kindness from
Miss Willard it is only necessary to persecute her a
little." With all her discriminating insight into hu-
man nature, her social relations were simply her human
relations ; she had no time for " society " — only for hu-
manity. She proved to the world that a woman can be
strong-minded, gentle-mannered and sweet-hearted at
the same time, and that the noblest are the simplest
No truthful pen picture can be given of Miss Willard
which does not include some account of the woman she
loved best in the world. Lady Henry Somerset, whom
she had long admired in the distance, she loved at first
sight when this titled lady came to the World's and
National W. C. T. U. Conventions, at Boston, in 1891.
The rank and file of her old friends were startled and
sore to discover that the queen of their affections, al-
ways before so easy of access, was much absent after
business hour in the Convention, from her headquarters
Frances Willard. 147
at the Revere House, and was with Lady Henry at the
Parker House. This emulation of the first place in
their leader's regard for a time somewhat threatened the
unity and peace of the White Ribbon Army in the
United States. But Lady Somerset so swiftly made her
own way into American hearts that the littleness of
jealousy was discarded, and the women shared with
Miss Willard high regard for this noble Englishwoman —
the daughter of the Earl of Somers. The Review of
Reviews styled her " a romance adorning English life."
She had only now come to believe that if the world's
woes are to be lessened, women must grapple bravely
with their causes and range themselves on the side of
those who struggle for justice; and that the heart and
instinct and intellect of woman must be felt in the
councils of nations. Thus she became the foremost
woman in English reforms.
I sent a word to Lady Henry asking if she objected
to being mentioned in these pages, and received the fol-
lowing characteristic reply :
"Eastor Castle, Ledbury,, Sept. 28, 1899.
"Mrs. C. E. Merrick:
" My dear friend, I thank you very much indeed for
your letter. The words you write about Frances touched
my heart. She is indeed the woman of the century who
has done more than any other to give woman her place,
and yet retain her womanliness. Anything you care to
say about me and my poor little efforts belongs to you.
Believe me yours in our best and truest bond,
148 Old Times in Dixie Land.
While the love I cherish for Frances "Willard was
shared, in such degree, with Lady Henry, making a
common bond between us, it was Mrs. Hannah White-
hall Smith who introduced me to her in Boston. Writ-
ing afterward to Mrs. Harriet B. Kells, in Chicago, at
National W. C. T. U. Headquarters in the Temple, I
said : " Give my love to our peerless Frances, God bless
her ! You say she is happy in the enjoyment of the
delectable society of Lady Henry Somerset. I would
say God bless Lady Henry too ! only she doesn't need
any blessing, having already everything on earth any
one can wish for, with our chieftain's heart superadded."
Mrs. Kells repeated this to Lady Henry, who seemed
much amused, but did not reveal whether there were yet
any unsatisfied longings in her life. Many American
hearts to-day say tenderly, " God bless Lady Henry ! "
for she is a sweet spirit, a brave soul, a true woman. It
is no exaggeration to say that these two heroic women
are chief historic figures in the records of their sex, and
while they were needful to each other their united labor
was more important for the world's reforms.
So many arc-lights have been thrown on Miss Wil-
lard's character that it may not be possible to add more
to the world's knowledge of her. Still I should like to
make known a little of her self-revealings in letters to
me, on points that illustrate her simple greatness.
When the Red Cross was making its first essays in
America, a postal card came which showed her friendli-
ness to all worthy organizations : " The Red Cross is
royal. No grander plan for ' We, Us & Co.' of North
and South. If not in W. C. T. U. I should give myself
Frances Willard. 149
to it. The noblest spirits of all civilized lands are en-
listed. Princes in the old world are its sponsors."
Again, she wrote : " How do you like dear Miss Cobbe's
book, ' Duties of Women' ? I had a letter from her
the other day and the creature said, to my astonishment
and delight, that she was just as familiar with my name
as I was with hers ! And she the biggest woman of the
age ! "
No censure, abuse or disappointment seemed ever to
destroy the sweet hopefulness of her spirit. At one
time she wrote : " Somebody's strictures in the New
Orleans Picayune gave me many thoughts. I may
come under criticism not only in these regards, but in
others concerning which there may not have been ex-
pression. I sincerely desire to be a true and a growing
Christian woman. Some friends can hold the mirror
to our faults."
All the world knows how her soul was moved that the
church of God should uphold our Christian cause, and
that the M. E. Conference should seat its women dele-
gates. At that time her word came to me : " If the M.
E. pastors don't endorse our blessed gospel, so much the
worse for them — in history, that's all ! ' This train is
going through ; clear the track ! ' I want you in a dele-
gation to the General Conference in May. Will Mrs.
Bishop Parker allow her name added? It is a blessed
chance to put a blessed name to a most blessed use. Oh
that he may see this for the sake of God and Home and
Humanity ! "
Prances Willard's fearless mind threw a searchlight
into any new thought that seemed worthy of exploration.
150 Old Times in Dixie Land.
She investigated Swedenborgianism, Faith-healing,
Psychic and Christian Science — if perchance she might
find the soul of truth which is ever at the origin of all
error. She was not afraid of the evolution of man, for
she early realized that the works and word of God must
harmonize ; that when science and religion should better
understand themselves and each other there could be no
real conflict, — and she joyed in this larger vision.
After a visit to my house, in 1896, she wrote thus to
Judge Merrick : " Christ and His gospel are loyally
loved, believed in and cherished by me, and have been
all along the years; nor do I feel them to be inconsist-
ent with avowing one's position as an evolutionist:
'When the mists have cleared away,' how beautiful it
will be to talk of the laws of the universe in our
Father's house, and to find again there those whom we
have loved and lost — awhile. In this faith I am ever
" Frances E. Willard.
It is scarcely worth while to say that she often was
the subject of the doctrinaire. At one time a noted
advocate of the faith cure was her guest, and was using
all diligence to lead Miss Willard to embrace her
" higher life." She said to this lady : " Come with me
to-day to see a friend, a lovely woman, who seems to
me to walk the higher life of faith in great beauty and
peace and power for others. I think you will be kin-
dred spirits." The visit was made, and the two
strangers fell into each other's arms, as it were, in the
intensity of their spiritual sympathy. On their return
Frances Willard. 151
to Rest Cottage, Miss Willard quietly said to her guest :
" That friend is one of the most noted Christian Science
healers." Now this was the chiefest of heterodoxies to
the faith-healer. " How I did enjoy her shocked
astonishment/' Miss Willard gleefully said to me,, " and
I told her I was more than ever sure how truly one, in
the depths of their natures and their essential faiths, are
those who are sincerely seeking to know God."
Frances Willard's spiritual life was too overflowing
and comprehensive to find expression in creeds. Her
own new beatitude, " Blessed are the inclusive, for they
shall be included," is a fair statement of her doctrine
as it related to her human ties, and to all the house-
hold of faith. Her whole law and gospel was " To love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart — and thy neighbor
as thyself:" and she found God in His works as well
as in His Word, and His image in every beautiful soul
that passed her way — and always her spirit ascended
unto the Father. She herself was regenerate by love,
and she expected love alone — enough of it — to trans-
form the world. She wrote me : " Be it known unto
thee that I believe — and always did — that the fact of
life predicts the fact of immortality. Lonesome would
it be indeed for us yonder in Paradise were not the
trees and flowers and birds we loved alive, once more
with us to make heaven homelike to our tender hearts.
How rich is life in friendships, opportunity, loyalty,
tenderness ! To me these things translate themselves in
terms of Christ. Perhaps others speak oftener of Him,
and have more definite conceptions of Him as an entity ;
but in the wishful sentiment of loyalty and a sincere
152 Old Times in Dixie Land.
intention of a life that shall confess Him by the spirit
of its deeds I believe I am genuine."
Just after the Boston World's and National Conven-
tions of 1891, Lilian Whiting — that keen analyzer of
motive and character — wrote : " Frances Willard is a
born leader; but with this genius for direction and
leadership, she unites another quality utterly diverse
from leadership — that of the most impressionable, the
most plastic, the most sympathetic and responsive per-
son that can possibly be imagined. Her temperament
is as delicately susceptible as that of an Aeolian harp;
one can hardly think in her presence without feeling
that she intuitively perceives the thought. She has the
clairvoyance of high spirituality.
" No woman of America has ever done so remarkable
a work as that being done by Frances Willard. There is
no question of the fact that she was called of the Lord
to consecrate herself to this work. She is so simple, so
modest, so eager to put every one else in the best possible
light, so utterly forgetful of self, that it requires some
attention to realize her vast comprehensiveness of effort
and achievement. If ever a woman were in touch with
the heavenly forces it is she. Frances Willard is the
most remarkable figure of her age."
Some one else in a private letter writes : " Her
strength was because she could love as no one else has
loved since the Son of Man walked the earth."
SORROW AND SYMPATHY.
Unwilling to be separated from me, Clara proposed
in 1882 that she and her two children should spend the
summer in New England. Her Uncle William had
placed his furnished house at our disposal ; so Mr. Mer-
rick and I had the novel experience of housekeeping in
the land of the Pilgrims. We had the social pleasure
of entertaining most interesting people, among them
Miss Lucretia Noble, the author of " A Reverend Idol."
After this visit Clara wrote a critique of this much-
talked-of book, published in the New Orleans Times-
Democrat, in which these words occur : " Miss Noble
reminds one forcibly of that charming woman — Gene-
vieve Ward. The identity of the ' Idol ' is supposed to
be established in the character of the worshiped and
worshipful Phillips Brooks." Clara had at times been
a newspaper contributor, and often said a timely word
for "the Cause that needed assistance.''' She had ad-
dressed an open letter, just before leaving the city, to
Mr. Paul Tulane, the philanthropist whose monument
is Tulane University, urging vainly that this great in-
stitution should be co-educational in its scope. It was
said of her that while her intellect and style were ex-
154 Old Times in Dixie Land.
quisitely womanly they possessed firm rationality and
searching analytical qualities.
Eev. W. F. Warren, D. D., president of Boston Uni-
versity, came also with his most attractive family to
Wilbraham. The friendship and love of his wife, Har-
riet Cornelia Merrick, proved a source of great comfort
in that season of sorrow, and a true satisfaction as long
as she lived. Her vigorous, wholesome, sympathetic
nature was one on which everybody was willing to ease
off their own burdens. Her intellectual abilities ranked
high, for she had acquired the culture of seven years
spent in Europe. She was widely known for twenty-
four years, as the editor of the Heathen Woman's
Friend — the organ of the Woman's Foreign Mission-
ary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. She
was an artist in music and a master of the French, Ger-
man and Italian languages. A friend in Germany said :
"Her German is perfect. She is never taken for an
American; for does she not possess all the virtues of a
German housewife? Does she not dearly love to fill
her chest with fine linen, and take the best care of her
household ? And then she cultivates her flowers, makes
fine embroideries, and last is a good knitter. She can-
not be an American lady ! " Yet she was a model
mother after the American ideal ; besides being a trustee
of the New England Conservatory of Music, and a lead-
ing officer of numerous other boards. She had a breezy
fashion of conversation, a fascinating smile, a cheery
word, a fun-sparkling eye and bright hair waving pret-
tily from a broad brow. When I confided to her the
fact of my daughter's threatened life by a latent disease,
Sorrow and Sympathy. 155
she gave such heartful sympathy that I have never
ceased to be grateful, and shed many tears when she too
was called away.
I needed a close friend this sad summer, for though
my daughter was not in usual health when we left home,
none knew of the presence of a fatal malady. After a
physician from Springfield had told us that she might
survive a year in a warmer climate, it was difficult to
keep strong enough to show her a cheerful face ; but the
medical orders were that Clara should not be informed
of her own danger if we expected to take her home
alive. I telegraphed for Mr. Guthrie. When he ar-
rived and saw her looking as usual, sitting by an open
window, bright, and beautifully dressed, he sent an im-
mediate message to New Orleans allaying anxiety. But
it was soon evident that she had entered upon the be-
ginning of the end. She drove out every day and did
not suffer: and we found her serenely conscious of her
own condition. She said : " It is all right, if I die. I
have been as happy as opportunities, and kindness, and
attentions, and love can make a human being. It is
beautiful to die here in Wilbraham where every one is
so kind." Every day she was bright and cheerful, and
looked her own sweet self. One day her father assisted
her into the carriage, and I knew it was for her a last
drive. Though almost prostrated with grief, I was able
to welcome her cheerfully when she returned. The
next morning she got up as usual, and calling for her
children, took a tender leave of all of us. "Don't
grieve, mother dear, don't ! " she said ; "I am safe in
156 Old Times in Dixie Land.
" Oh, my child, what can I do without you ! " I cried.
" Do as other bereaved mothers have done and bear it
bravely ! and you will have both my little children to
rear; they are yours." When at the last she fixed her
beautiful eyes on me and said : " My mother ! " her
earthly word was silenced, her life-work done.
I find that I wrote thus to a dear friend at that time :
" Here I am — sitting in the chamber of my dead. The
Marthas and the Marys are here doing according to
their natures. Mary sits in the quiet with me, Martha
writes of our loss to the absent, or prepares dinner.
God help us ! the business of life must go on even in
the presence of death. My Clara lies on the lounge,
wrapped in white cashmere, so still — so cold; — and
this is the last day she can so lie before she is buried
from my sight. The wind blows cool, as often in a New
England August, but it drives pangs into my sore heart,
and the day seems different from any other day of my
life. Why does God leave us at such times set apart
to suffer, as on some eminence? The people pity us.
Her father says the time is short and we shall soon go
to her. Yes — and then the air and the sunshine will
take on a new nature for some one else — for our sakes.
But it is different to lay old frames in the dust from
putting under the daisies' bed the young in their glo-
rious prime. God knows best. It may be that she is
taken from evil to come. She lived happily, and has
laid down all of earth bravely to go into the other life.
" The students stop in passing, and seeing our mourn-
ing door ask, ' Who is dead ? ' My dead is nothing to
them. They never saw Clara — nor me. It is only an
Sorrow and Sympathy. 157
idle question. We are only two atoms among earth's
millions. Lord, forget not these particles in Thy
universe, — for we are being tossed to and fro, — and
bring us to a resting place somewhere in Thy eternal
" I know the world must still go on, though it is
stationary for me, and I am honestly trying to have
patience with its cheerful progress; but even the play-
fulness of my two motherless little ones jars upon me.
It is useless for me to try to realize human sympathy
from the lonely height where I sit and weep over the
untimely death of my two beautiful daughters. They
were God-given, and my very own by ties of blood, but
more by that happy responsiveness of soul which consti-
tutes ' born friends.' After being as the woman whose
children rise up and call her blessed, I am now like
Rachel of old, refusing to be comforted because they
are not. I lie down in humble submission because I
cannot help myself. I say over and over, ' Thy will
be done ! ' — but all the same I would have them back
if I could. None of us try to raise a controversy with
the inevitable. We are grateful for kind words and
sympathy. They cannot change anything, but they give
just a drop of comfort to a desolate, disrupted life on
the human side of that gateway, through which the ma-
jority have gone down into the silence where 'the dead
praise not the Lord.' "
Many testimonies to the character and worth of our
child were written and published. They shall speak
for her and for the greatness of our loss. The Times-
Democrat said: "Wherever she moved she was by the
158 Old Times in Dixie Land.
necessities of her sweet nature a ' bright, particular
star' among earth's shining ones. Her conversation
was a delight to all within sound of her voice. Her wit
was gentle, pure, generous and sincere. She ruled all
hearts, and loved to rule, for she ruled by love."
Catharine Cole wrote: " M>any men and women famous
in the great world of art and literature will pay the
sweet tribute of tears to the memory of this lovely
woman; and here in our own home, where she was so
beloved and admired, her gentle, cheery presence will
be missed and mourned for many sad days. She shone
like a jewel set amid dross."
From Mrs. Mollie Moore Davis — widely known for
her exquisitely delicate love poems and quaint tales of
real life — came this tender word : " I truly appreciated
her great gifts and greater loveliness. She is a star
gone from my sky."
Mrs. Mary Ashley Townsend sent me these words:
" Her constant and determined intellectual develop-
ment, her devotion to progress, her literary tastes, her
social charms, her reliability as a friend, her loveliness
as a wife and mother, formed a combination of qualities
that made her the realization of the poet's dream,
" ' Fair as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky.' "
Mrs. Townsend is herself a rarely gifted poet, long
and deeply homed in the heart of New Orleans. With
the exception of Longfellow and Cable, no writer has
so vividly mirrored the very atmosphere of lower Louis-
iana. In " Down the Bayou " its " heroed past," its
Sorrow and Sympathy. 159
shrined memories find an eloquent voice; there in ever-
lasting tints are painted its dank luxuriance and verdant
solitudes ; its red-tiled roofs and stucco walls, the " mud-
built towers of castled cray-fish," its sluggish, sinuous
bayoux and secrets of lily-laden lagoons, its odors of
orange bloom and mossy swamps mingled with flute-
toned song and flitting color amid the solemn, dark-hued
live-oaks. Mary Ashley Townsend had three lovely
daughters. One has passed over the river, but she still
has Adele, who resembles her gifted mother, and Daisy,
to comfort her life.
James E. Randall, the gifted author of " My Mary-
land," said in his own newspaper : " She was too ra-
diantly dowered for this world she glorified. She was
all that poets have sung and men have wished daughter
and wife to be. Well may the bereaved father and hus-
band wonder with poor Lear ' why so many mean things
live while she has ceased to be.' " Other expressions were
as follows : " It is something worth living for, to have
been the mother of such a being." " Outside of your
mother-love the loss of the sweet friendship and con-
geniality of your lives will create an awful void. But
that beautiful soul is yours still — growing and develop-
ing in Paradise." " Amid all her charms what im-
pressed me most was her admiration for her mother.
She addressed you often and fondly as c dear/ as if you
were the child and she the mother." " Centuries of ex-
perience have not developed a philosophy deeper or more
comforting for the human race than that of David:
' He shall not Teturn to me but I shall go to him.' I
thank God for the great gift of death ! "
160 Old Times in Dixie Land.
A minister of God wrote me, from Worcester, Mass.,
a word that may be as great a light to some sitting in
darkness as it was to me : "I must confess that, for my
own part, I take such sorrows with less heaviness of
heart than once, for the reason that every such loss seems
to strengthen, rather than weaken, my faith in immortal-
ity. In good and beautiful lives I see so vividly a reve-
lation of God — the Infinite Holiness and Beauty shin-
ing through the human soul and the raiment of clay —
that I cannot believe it possible for death to extinguish
their real life ' hidden with Christ in God.' I cannot
believe that they can be 'holden of the grave.' I feel
assured that theirs is a conscious life of progress and
joy, and cannot mourn for them as dead, but only as far
away. More and more am I convinced that this vivid
feeling of the Divine Presence in beautiful human lives
is peculiarly the Christians ground of hope in immor-
tality. It was what the apostle meant by ' Christ in you,
the hope of glory,' and it gives us gradually the clear
vision of an immortal world. Only thus, as we gain
that ' knowledge of God ' which is ' eternal life ' here
and now, can we rise above the mist and smoke of this
temporal world and lift our eyes ' unto the hills whence
cometh our help.' Only thus as we live in the eternal
world, here and now, can we feel secure that nothing
fair and good in human life can perish."
Mrs. Hannah Whitehall Smith wrote me thus from
Philadelphia the sad December of this year :
" My dear Friend :
" Miss Willard wants to open the lines between your
Sorrow and Sympathy. 161
soul and mine. She feels sure we can do each other
good, and asks me to tell you about my Bay who went
home three years ago, because you, too, have lost a
daughter and will understand. My Eay died after five
days' sickness. As soon as she was taken ill, I began,
as my custom is, to say, ' Thy will be done.' I said it
over and over constantly, and permitted no other
thought to enter my mind. I hid myself and my child
in the fortress of God's blessed will, — and there I met
my sorrow and loss. When she went out of my earthly
life the peace of God which passes all understanding
came down upon me from above, and enwrapped me in
aii impregnable hiding-place, where I have been hidden
ever since. My windows look out only on the unseen
and divine side of things; and I see my child in the
presence of God, at rest forever, free from all earth's
trials. Whatever may be your experience I know that
grief is bitter anguish under any other conditions than
these, and the mystery of it is crushing.
" Our blessed Frances gave me your letter to read,
and I could echo every word you said about her. She
is queen among women and is doing a glorious work,
not the least of which is the emancipation of women —
coming out on every side. They have far more than
they know for which to thank Frances Willard."
To that letter I replied : " If the Heavenly Father
takes note of the sparrow's fall, it may be that He put
the thought in Miss Willard's mind to ask you to help
me; but, dear lady, you are many a day's journey ahead
of me in religious experience when, in the presence of
162 Old Times in Dixie Land.
the death of your beloved, you can say, ' Thy will be
done.' I wish I could, like you, will whatever God
" I thank you for the account of your Ray, and I thank
God that He created such a Christian mother. Simeon
said to Mary : ' Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine
own soul also.' Every one who has lost a child has been
pierced through and through. In this crisis of my life
I am amazed and stupefied by my own capacity for suf-
fering, and actually look upon myself with an awed
pity, as I would upon a stranger. How can I yield
everything? I had already buried one lovely daughter
in the bloom of life ; and I had only one left. I submit
because I must. My heart cries out for my child; God
forgive me, but I would call her back to me if I could."
When the time drew near for the annual convention
of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, my hus-
band and sons urged that I should go to Detroit, hoping
the change of scene and new responsibilities might
arouse me from depression. Miss Willard had already
written : " My heart turns toward thee in thy desola-
tion. Remember thou hast doting sisters. I believe
thy beautiful Clara knows how we rally to thy side, and
While I was in Detroit, Hannah Whitehall Smith
called upon me several times, and talked about my con-
dition of mind, and so inspired me with gratitude that
I endeavored to obey every suggestion she made, regard-
less of the pride and self-sufficiency which is so com-
mon with unsatisfied souls. She seemed to have direct
access to the Heavenly Father, and laid my case before
Sorrow and Sympathy. 163
Him with such simplicity and faith that my heart was
deeply touched, and I gained a new knowledge of spirit-
ual relations. When I learned in these latter days, that
she had been called to sorrow over her husband "gone
before/"' I wrote to her in loving memory of her former
goodness, and received a reply, from Eastnor Castle,
where she and Lady Henry Somerset had been engaged
in preparing a memorial of Miss Willard, which was
issued to the people of Great Britain.
The letter reads : " Your loving sympathy in my last
great loss has been most welcome. My dear husband
had been a great sufferer for eighteen months, and
longed so eagerly to go that no one who loved him could
be anything but thankful when his release came. I
have been enabled to rejoice in his joy of having entered
into the presence of the King. It cannot be long for
me at the longest before I shall join him, and until
then I am hidden in the Divine fortress of God's love
and care. I love to think that you too are hidden there,
dear friend and sister, and that together we may meet
in the Divine Presence where there is fulness of joy
even in the midst of earthly sorrow.
" Lady Henry joins me in love to you. She is, as
we are, very sorry over the loss of our beloved Prances
Willard; but God still lives and reigns, and in Him we
can rest without anxiety. I have found Him a very
present help in many a time of trouble, and I rejoice
to know I was permitted to help you realize this in your
hour of sore need."
BECKY SPEAKS UP IN MEETING IN THE INTERESTS OF
The incidents which once enlivened the lives of every
family that was served by the negro slave are fading
from the minds of even many who were centers of those
episodes. But they are of legendary interest to the
younger generations. There are some things to be re-
gretted in the negro being poured into the mold of the
white man's education. The only true national music
in the United States is that known as " the negro mel-
ody." Will not so-called musical " cultivation " tend
to destroy the charmingly distinctive character of the
negro's music? Art cannot supply or enhance the
quality of his genius. It will be a definite loss if the
music of the future shall lack the individualism of his
songs, for with them will go the wonderful power of
improvisation — the relic of his unfettered imagination,
the voices of his native jungles struggling to translate
themselves into speech. His happy insouciance is al-
ready fleeing before the pressure of his growing re-
sponsibilities. Very much that constitutes the pictur-
esque and lovable in negro character will disappear
with the negro point of view, — for if he survives in this
civilization his point of view must merge into the
Becky Speaks Up in Meeting. 165
Anglo-Saxon's. Only those who were " to the manor
born " can deftly interpret the idiosyncrasies of the
plantation negro ; so, while a few of us who owned them
are yet alive, it may be a service to the future, as well as
our duty and pleasure, to link their race peculiarities to
the yet unborn, by revealing and embalming them
through the garrulous pen. Becky Coleman's gifts as
a raconteuse deserve a record. It delights me to re-
member her as I sat one day at the door of the porch
facing the wide river and the public road. Near by,
through a path in the grounds, a procession of colored
people passed and repassed morning and evening, with
buckets on their well-cushioned heads, to the cisterns
of water in the rear of the house. Becky came along
and greeted me with polite cordiality. I invited her to
stop and rest awhile, and filled her tin cup with iced
lemonade from a pitcher standing near.
The woman seated herself on the steps, set down her
pail beside her and sipped the cool beverage.
" Thanky, ma'am," said she. " I feels dat clean
down in my foots. It's mighty hot fer dis time er year.
Ole Aunt Mary is spendin' to-day at my house, en she
hope me some, hoin' in my gyardin', en now um gwine
to bile er pot 0' greens and stchew some greasy butter
beans (fer de ole 'oman don't never have nothin' but
meat en brade at her house), en den she mus' finish
gittin' de grass en weeds outen my cabiges, for um
bound to have a fall gyardin', en ef yo wants turnips, en
lettice, en redishes, yo knows whar to fin' em."
Becky lifted the lower flounce of my wrapper and
inspected the embroidery, looking at me sharply from
1 66 Old Times in Dixie Land.
head to foot. " Dat's a mighty purty dress yo got on,
Miss Carrie/' said she, "yo mus' lem me have it when
yo're done wid it. Won't yo promise me ? "
" Now, Becky," I replied, " don't ask me to make
a promise I might forget, and you would be sure to
remember; but you go on and tell me about your pro-
tracted meeting at the Eoyal Oak Church yesterday."
Becky squared her portly person into a comfortable
position, her hand on her hip, and with complacency
and satisfaction beaming from her ebony colored face
she began :
"Ya'as em I wuz dar; I was bleeged to be dar, fer
um one uv de stchowercl sisters. You knows we dresses
in white en black. I had on dat black silk dress yo
sont me las' Chrimus. Dat is, I had on de tail uv it,
wid er white sack instead of er bass, en I jes' let yo know
nun of dese niggers roun' here can beat me er dressing
when I gits on de close yo gie me. I had er starchy big
white handkercher tied turbin fashin on my head, en
Miss Lula's big breas'-pin right yeah " (putting her
hand to her throat), " en I tell yo, mun , I jes' outlooked
ennything in dat house. Yander comes Aunt Loo, an'
I bet she'll tell yo de same. 'Twas er feas' day — sacka-
ment day — en all de stchowerd sisters was er settin'
roun' on de front benches, like dey does dem times, en
dar wus Sis' Lizer Wright, who wus one of us, all dressed
up in pure white, en settin' side uv her was Peter Green,
en he wus fixed up too, mitely, even down to new shoes.
" Dey hilt pra'ar, en den Bro' Primus Johnson ris
en showed er piece up paper 'en told us all 'twas er
license fer to jine Peter Green and Lizer Wright in de
Becky Speaks Up in Meeting. 167
holy bonds o' mattermony ; ' But,' sez he, ' f 0' I go any
furder I want de bretherin to come for'ard en speak dey
mines on de subjick.'
" Well, at dat, I seed er good many nods 'en winks
er passin' 'bout, but I never knowd 'zacly whut wus
gwine on 'till one of de elders ris 'en said he directed
to havin' any ceremony said over dem folks, fer Sis'
Lizer's fust husband, ole Unk' Jake, wus yit er livin',
'ceppen he died sence I lef home dis mawin',' sez he.
" His 'pinion wus dat ef de deacorns wan't 'lowed
but one wife 'cordin' to Scriptur, de stchowerd sisters
mustn't have mor'n one man at de same time.
" Dat fotch Bro. Primus ter his feet, en he tun
roun' to de sisters, he did, en 'lowed dat dey too mought
git up en 'brace de multitude, en gie dur unnerstandin'
in dis case. 'Pon dat, Sis' Anderson ris, en sez she,
' Dis 'oman orten be casted outen de church, en I ain't
afeard to say so pine blank.' I tell yer she was in fer
raisen uv a chune, en singin' her right out den en dar,
wid de Elder leadin' of her ter de do,' for dat's de way
dey tu'ns em outen de church over here. ' Fer/ sez
she, ' she's bent on committen' 'dultery — ef she ain't
done it befo' — en its gwine clean agin whuts in dat ar
volum on dat ar table,' en she p'inted her forefinger to
de Bible er layin' dar, en ses she, 'We cyant 'ford to
let sich doin's as dese to be gwine on in dis heah
" Dey all sided 'long Sis' Andersen mostly, ceppen
me. I wus sorry fer de 'oman a settin' dar wid her
arms hugged up on her breas' like a pore crimi' al. I
wuz mighty sorry fer her. So when Bro' Primus
i68 Old Times in Dixie Land.
'quired ef ennybody felt able ter counterfeit Sis' An-
dersen's evidence, en looked all roun', en nobody sed
nuthin, when he axed 'em agin why, on dat second 'peal,
I jes' riz up en tole 'em I knowed dat 'oman fo' de wah.
To be shore she had tuck up wid old Unk' Jake long
'fo' dat. He wus er ingeneer in a big saw-mill on de
Tucker place, en he had er son by his fust wife, killed
in de wah. He wus mighty ole when I fust seed him —
he oilers wus a heap too ole fer Sis' Lizer — but fer de
las' six or seben year de ole man's done failed so he
ain't no service to nobody — morn er chile, siz I. Bein'
as he is, sez I, widout any owner fer to feed en clove en
fine him it comes powerful hard on Sis' Lizer to do all,
fer I tell yer, he's des like er chile, only wus, fer a chile
kin he'p himself some, but Unk' Jake cayn't do er
Gawd's bit fer hisself, nor nobody else."
" Is he too feeble to walk about ? " I asked.
"Well, ma'am, in 'bout er hour, he mought git as
fer frum here as yo gyardin gate yander — hoppin' long
slow on his stick."
Becky rose and very perfectly imitated the bowed
figure and halting gait of the poor old negro. Throw-
ing down the stick she had used, she resumed her seat
and her subject, saying ; " Sis' Lizer done er good part
by dat ole man. She has him to feed wid er spoon,
fer his han' is dat shakey dat he spills everyt'ing 'fo he
gets it ter his mouf. When she goes ter de fiel' she
puts er baskit er co'n by him so he kin muse hisself
feedin' de chicken en ducks.
" Ole folks, yo know, eats mighty often," said Becky,
"en den he mus' be fed thru de night. Ef she don't
Becky Speaks Up in Meeting. 169
git up en gin him dat cake or some mush en milk, why
she cayn't sleep fer his cryin' — jes' like er chile."
" You were telling me, Becky, what occurred at
church; suppose you go on with that story," said I.
" Gawd bless yer soul, honey, dat wan't no story. I
wish I may die dis minit ef I didn't tell yo de Gawd's
trufe. Oh, yas; I had ris en wus er speakin' up fer
de 'oman, how long I knowed her en so on, en den I
said " she spoke louder, rising and gesticulating:
" Brethren, you see dat grass out yander en dat yaller
spotted dog er wallerin roun' on it ? Well den, yo sees
it, en yo sees dat steer er standin' er little ways off;
now dat ox would be eatin' dat grass ef he warn't driv
away by de dog. Ole Unk' Jake ain't no dog. He ain't
dat mean en low down. He done gie Sis' Lizer er paper
signifyin' his cornsent fer her to take 'nother pardner.
" Een I jes' went on — ' Bretherin,' says I, ' nobody
nee'nter talk 'bout no 'dultery neither, fer yo all knows
dere want no lawful marryin' nohow in slave times en
Eeb times. De scan'lous can't be no wus en 'tis. Yo
mus' jes' sider dat Sis' Lizer wants ter marry, now fer
de fust time, en live like er Christon in her ole days.
Nobody musn't hender her in de doin' of er right t'ing,
but let us pray fer de incomin' uv de Sperit.
" We mus' feel fer one another, sez I, 'en none de res'
kin do no better'n Sis' Lizer. De Word says ef yer
right arm defend yo, cut it off, en ef yer right eye ain't
right, pull it out. ' Bretherin,' says I, ' dey ain't nothin'
'tall gin dese folks bein' jined together in dat ar book
dar, nor nowhares else.'
" Brudder Primus 'lowed, he did, dat Sis Coleman
170 Old Times in Dixie Land.
had thowed mo' light on de case dan ennybody else, en
perceeded ter ax Peter Green ef he was willin' en able
to help Sis' Lizer take keor of ole Unk Jake, en he
signified he wus; en den everybody wus satisfied en de
ceremony wus said over 'em right den en dar, fo' de
preacher tuk his tex' en preached his sarmont.
" But dis won't do me," said Becky. " I mus' go long
en put on my dinner 'fo' de ole man come 'long en
holler fer his vittles. Grood-by, Miss Carrie,'' said she,
rising, " don't yo forgit yo promised me dat dress yo
got on. I wants to put it away 'ginst I die, to be
berry'd in. Dat 'min's me dat Aunt Patsey's sholey
bad off. She cayn't las' much longer."
" You've had that woman dying for a week, Becky."
" No, ma'am, / ain't had her dyin' ! It's de Lord !
If 'twas me diff'unt people would die fum dem dat does
die — I tell yer ! "
MRS. JULIA WARD HOWE AND THE BLESSED COLORED
As has been intimated, I became president of the
New Orleans W. C. T. IT. not from deep conviction of
duty on the temperance question, but because I could
not resist the inspirations of Frances Willard's convic-
tions. Once in the work I gave my heart and my con-
science to it with such measure of success that in
January, 1883, a State convention was called to meet in
New Orleans in the hall of the Y. M. C. A. Miss Wil-
lard was again present, and was my guest. Rev. W. C.
Carter, D. D., pastor of Felicity Street M. E. Church
South, was the knightly brother who stood beside us in
this hour when we were without reputation, nobly doing
his sworn duty as a soldier of the Cross, to speak the
truth and defend the weak. Miss Willard spoke twice
in his church. At a table where a number of dignitaries
of the church were dining, referring to this event, a
friend remarked that Dr. Carter had said the only time
his church was full was on this occasion of Miss Wil-
lard's address. "No," the doctoc replied, "I did not
say that. I said the first time it was full. It was full
again — but she filled it ! "
There was a peculiar fitness in the time of Miss Wil-
172 . Old Times in Dixie Land.
lard's early visits to the South. Women who had been
fully occupied with the requirements of society and the
responsibilities of a dependency of slaves, were now
tossed to and fro amidst the exigencies and bewilder-
ments of strange and for the most part painful circum-
stances, and were eager that new adjustments should
relieve the strained situation, and that they might find
out what to do. Frances Willard gave to many of them
a holy purpose, directing it into broader fields of spirit-
ual and philanthropic culture than they had ever known.
For the local and denominational she substituted the
vision of humanity. It seemed to me that when Miss
Willard and Miss Gordon bravely started out to find a
new country they discovered Louisiana, and like Colum-
bus, they set up a religious standard and prayed over it
— and organized the W. C. T. U. I was one result of that
voyage of discovery. It immersed me in much trouble,
care and business — sometimes it seemed as if I had more
than my head and hands could hold — unused was I to
plans and work and burdens. I prayed to be delivered
from too much care unless it might set forward the
cause. I was willing " to spend and be spent," but
sometimes I felt as if I had mistaken my calling. I
only knew that I was on the right road, and tried to
look to God to lead me. Doubts might come to-morrow,
but to-day I trusted. In ten years I saw the work es-
tablished in most of the chief towns of the State, and
many men and women afield who had learned the doc-
trine of total abstinence for the individual and the
gospel of prohibition for the commonwealth.
During these years I gathered numerous delightful
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. 173
associations in my State work and in my annual attend-
ance upon the conventions of the National W. C. T. U.
Among the National workers who aided me greatly in
my early work was Mrs. Judith Ellen Foster who, with
her husband, was for a week my guest, and spoke in
crowded churches. Although I did not wholly sympa-
thize with her when later she withdrew from the Na-
tional W. C. T. IT., our friendly personal relations were
never broken. Her brilliant abilities as a temperance
worker and as a pioneer woman-member of the bar com-
manded my respect, and I have not ceased to be grateful
for the sustaining power of her inspirations and acts.
For the first time in my life, at one of her meetings in
New Orleans, I sat in a pulpit — where Bishops Newman
and Simpson had officiated — and very peculiar were my
feelings in such a place.
Besides Mrs. Foster, Mrs. Mary T. Lathrop, Mrs.
Clara C. Hoffman and Mrs. Hannah Whitehall Smith
from National ranks did much to create sentiment for
our cause in Louisiana. No speaker in America has
excelled Mrs. Lathrop in the vigor and the statesman-
like majesty of her arguments for the dethronement of
the liquor traffic. A distinguished judge, who was not
in favor of our propaganda, said there were few men in
Congress who had equalled her in logic and eloquence.
We mourn yet that in her death the world has lost so
much that time can never replace.
One of the greatest victories won for our cause was
the passage in 1888 of a Scientific Temperance Instruc-
tion bill, by the State Legislature, for the education of
the youth in the public schools, on the nature of alcohol
174 Old Times in Dixie Land.
and its effect upon the human system. Mrs. Mary Hunt
of Massachusetts, the originator of this movement for
the safeguard of health against the seductions and de-
structions of strong drink and narcotics, spent a month
at our legislature as the guest of Mrs. Mary Eeade
Goodale. Daily I went with these two indefatigable
workers, watched and manceuvered the progress of this
bill, until one of the best statutes passed on this subject
by any State was secured. Such a work for the world's
glory is enough for any mortal, but we trust it has also
placed Mrs. Hunt among the immortals of earthly
I visited the Capital at this time and was active in the
lobby, interviewing members. I sent my card to a
Senator Gage, and was more than surprised when in re-
sponse a tall, dignified black man presented himself.
It was difficult for a moment to determine whether to
make him stand during the interview, as is usual with
his color, but I said : " Senator Gage : The people have
put you in this respectable and responsible position, and
as other senators have occupied this chair will you
please be seated ? " He sat down, and he afterward
voted for our bill.
After this social intercourse with Mrs. Hunt and
Mrs. Goodale great impetus was given to the work in
Louisiana by the establishment of a W. C. T. U. booth
at the World's Exposition in New Orleans in the year
1885. It was artistically decorated and made as attrac-
tive as ingenuity could devise. Here the world's great
lights in the temperance cause were to be heard daily —
in pulpits and other public places in the city. In
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. 175
addition to Miss Willard, Mrs. Lathrop, Mrs. Matilda
B. Carse, Mrs. Caroline Buel, Mary Allen West, Mrs. Jose-
phine Nichols, Mrs. Mary A. Leavitt, Mrs. Sallie F.
Chapin of the National Guard, there were present from
State work, Mrs. Lide Merriwether of Tennessee, Mrs.
I. C. de Veiling of Massachusetts, Mrs. J. B. Hohbs and
Mrs. Lucian Hagans of Illinois, Mrs. M. M. Snell of
Mississippi, and many others. Our Louisiana Prohibi-
tion militia were in force all the time, and we had the
pleasure and assistance of such brotherly giants of the
temperance reform as Geo. W. Bain, I. N. Stearn, presi-
dent of National Temperance Society, Jno. P. St.
Johns, Hon. E. H. McDonald of California, Rev. C.
H. Mead, A. A. Hopkins, and hosts of other loyal breth-
ren who burnished our faith and fired our zeal.
Miss Willard in the Union Signal of this date said:
'"'Mrs. Merrick speaks of the W. C. T. U. Booth as a
' tabernacle.' I consult Webster and find that a taber-
nacle is ' a place in which some holy or precious thing
is deposited.' Aye, the definition fits. Our hearts are
there, our holy cause, our blessed bonds. Again, it is
a ' reliquary,' says the redoubtable Noah, ' a place for
the preservation of relics.' Yea, verily. The women
of Israel never turned over their relics more keenly than
have W. C. T. U. women rifled their jewelry boxes for
the ' Souvenir Fund,' which has gone into the Taber-
nacle. It is ' a niche ' too ' for the image of a saint.'
Accurate to a nicety. Heaven keeps a niche to hold our
treasures, and so does the World's Exposition. Our
saints are there in person and in spirit — the right hand
of our power."
176 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe had been called by the Expo-
sition management to preside over the Woman's Depart-
ment. There was much criticism of the authorities that
this honor had not been given to a Southern woman;
notwithstanding that this world-renowned Bostonian
was not a stranger to our people — they fully appreciated
the power of her " Battle Hymn of the Republic " — it
seemed unnecessary to seek so far for a head of the Ex-
hibit. If Southern women could create it, some one
of them was surely able to direct it. Mrs. Howe came
and performed this duty with marked ability, and dis-
played a force of character which commanded respect
though it did not always win for her acquiescence in
her decisions or affectionate regard from all her col-
leagues. I myself had much expense to incur, and re-
ceived nothing, and individually I had naught special to
excite my gratitude, though from the first I was willing
to welcome this distinguished lady, and extend to her
my co-operation and hospitality. My subsequent rela-
tions to her though transient have been pleasant, and
doubtless her memory of her Exposition coadjutors
matches our recollection of her own regal self. Miss
Isabel G-reely was her secretary — a very useful and esti-
Some interesting exercises took place during one
afternoon of the Exposition. Mrs. Julia Ward Howe
addressed the colored people in a gallery devoted to their
exhibit. There was a satisfactory audience, chiefly of
the better classes of the race. Mrs. Howe had asked me
to accompany her, and when I assented some one said:
" Well, you are probably the only Southern woman
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. 177
here who would risk public censure by speaking to a
negro assembly/' Mrs. Howe told them how their
Northern friends had labored to put the colored people
on a higher plane of civilization, and how Garrison had
been dragged about the streets of Boston for their sake,
and urged that they show themselves worthy of the
great anti-slavery leaders who had fought their battles.
Her address was extremely well received. I was then
invited to speak. I told them : " The first kindly face
I ever looked into was one of this race who called forth
the sympathy of the world in their days of bondage.
Among the people you once called masters you have
still as warm, appreciative friends as any in the world.
Some of us were nurtured at your breasts, and most of
us when weaned took the first willing spoonful of food
from your gentle, persuasive hands; and when our
natural protectors cast us off for a fault, for reproof,
for punishment, you always took us up and comforted
us. Can we ever forget it ?
" Have you not borne the burdens of our lives through
many a long year? When troubles came did you not
take always a full share? Well do I remember, as a
little child, when I saw my beloved mother die at the
old plantation home. The faithful hands from the
fields assembled around the door, and at her request
Uncle Caleb Harris knelt by her bedside and prayed
for her recovery — if it was God's will. How the men
and women and children wept ! And after she was laid
in the earth my infant brother, six months old, was
given entirely to the care of Aunt Eachel, who loved
him as her own life even into his young manhood, and
178 Old Times in Dixie Land.
to the day of her death. And who can measure your
faithfulness during the late war when all our men had
gone to the front to fight for their country ? Your pro-
tection of the women and children of the South in those
years of privation and desolation; your cultivation of
our fields that fed us and our army; your care of our
soldier boys on the field of battle, in camp and hospital,
and the tender loyalty with which you — often alone —
brought home their dead bodies so that they might be
laid to sleep with their fathers, has bound to you the
hearts of those who once owned you, in undying remem-
brance and love.
" I do not ask you to withhold any regard you may
have for those who labored to make you free. Be as
grateful as you can to the descendants of the people who
first brought you from Africa — and then sold you l down
South ' when your labor was no longer profitable to
themselves. But remember, now you are free, whenever
you count up your friends never to count out the
women of the South. They too rejoice in your eman-
cipation and have no grudges about it; and would help
you to march with the world in education and true prog-
ress. As we have together mourned our dead on earth
let us rejoice together in all the great resurrections now
and hereafter." At the close, many colored people with
tearful eyes extended a friendly hand, and Mrs. Howe
too did the same.
Hon. E. H. McDonald, the California philanthropist,
had been my guest during Exposition days and had won
our hearts by a face that reflected the nobility of his
deeds. In 1890 he sent me $150 to be used for prizes
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. 179
offered in the public schools of New Orleans for the
best essays written on temperance. The school board
and Mr. Easton, the able superintendent, accepted the
offer, and the presentation of the prizes was made a
great public occasion in an assemblage at Grunewald
There was a small contingent of Southern women
whose platform services were invaluable to me, and
whose loving sympathy helped me over many otherwise
rough places. The first of these was Mrs. Sallie F.
Chapin of South Carolina. Both in appearance and
speech she was intense, tragic, and pathetic. — Her
fiery eloquence captured the imagination and dragooned
convictions in battalions. She did splendid pioneer
platform services as superintendent of Southern Work,
which place she filled until it was abolished by the
National Convention of 1889, at the request of the
Southern States, because the existence of that office
misrepresented them in their organic relations to the
National W. C. T. IT. and had a trend toward violation
of a platform principle against sectionalism. Mrs.
Chapin lived and died an " unreconstructed Ecbel."
The bogey of secession of the Southern States from the
National seemed to haunt her brain; but I have never
been able to discover any other woman who believed that
such a phantom existed; it must have been but a queer
instance of reflex action from her over-stimulated South-
ern sentiment. Mrs. Chapin had extraordinary ability
and was a marvel of endurance when her temperament
is taken into the reckoning. Her heroic service deserves
a lasting place in our annals.
180 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Another Southern woman of large brain and larger
heart who helped me in my days of inexperience was Mrs.
Mary McGee Snell (now Hall) of Mississippi. Like
the war-horse of Scripture she scented battle afar off
and gloried in combat. She was never so happy as in
the heat of struggle. Her impetuous nature took her
into all sorts of unusual situations, and she did not
seem to be out of place — as did many other delegates —
when, during a National W. C. T. U. convention, she
was seen in the streets of Chicago parading at the head
of a Salvation Army procession. She is essentially " a
soldier of the Cross/' and has carried her gifts of elo-
quence and the most vibrant, persuasive of voices into
the Evangelistic department of our National organiza-
tion. Her love of rescuing souls has kept her exclu-
sively in evangelistic work; in her power as a gospel
worker she is a Sam Jones and D. L. Moody boiled
The most original of our National staff-workers who
came to my rescue was another full-blooded Southerner
— Miss Frances E. Griffin of Alabama. She is gifted
with an inimitable humor. An audience room is
quickly filled when it is known that she is to be the
speaker of an occasion. Though a woman of presence
and dignity and a manner that befits the best, her ap-
pearance as soon as she speaks a word is a promise of
fun, and her audience has begun to laugh before the
time. Wit of tongue is rare with women, but Miss
Griffin's equals in quality or rank the best of our
American humorists. At the same time that she en-
livens the seriousness of the public work which women
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. 181
have in hand, she is an intelligent reformer and also
a true woman of the home — having for many years been
the responsible bread-winner of her family, and has
reared orphan children.
Miss Belle Kearney was too young during my term
of office to be classed with the workers already men-
tioned, for she had just begun to consecrate her life to
the service of humanity. At my request she brought
her fresh enthusiasm and great gifts to organize the
Young Woman's Temperance Union of Louisiana. Re-
peated and most effective work in this State has made
Louisianians feel that they have an endearing right in
this Dixie-born-and-reared young woman; nor have
they less pride than her native Mississippi in her present
national fame as a first-class platform speaker and pro-
Hindrances and heartaches, however, were sandwiched
between our helps and happiness liberally enough to
cause us to realize that she — as well as he — who wins
must fight. We were not strong swimmers accustomed
to breast the waves of an uneducated public disappoval ;
but we knew we must encounter it and nerve ourselves
for the shock, putting ourselves at war against the
liquor traffic and its political allies. Everywhere
we found the W. C. T. U. the underpinning (not
one would have dared to think of herself as a " pil-
lar") of the church. Very many of them had in
tow the whole church structure — missionary societies,
pastor's salary, the choir, the parsonage, and the debt
on the church. Most of them were mothers too; some,
G-od help them ! sad-eyed and broken-hearted because
182 Old Times in Dixie Land.
of the ravage of their own firesides which the open
saloon had caused. We read our Bibles and prayed., and
the word of the Lord came to us that the mother-heart
in Christ's people must protest against further slaying
of the innocents at the open doorways of the dram
"We went to our brethren in the church (to whom else
should we go?) with the Lord's message. Some of
them — not the dignitaries usually, but the humble-
minded, prayerful men, God bless them ! who went
about their work unheralded — believed our report: but
it was too hard a saying for the many that God ever
spake except by the word of mouth of a man. They
forgot Anna and Deborah, and practically sided with
the " higher criticism " respecting the errancy of the
Scripture in its statement about woman's relation to the
church. And so, after a while, I said at one of our
conventions that I could count upon one hand all the
ministers in New Orleans who had come forward to
pray over one of our meetings.
We had to defend ourselves on the charge of being
Sabbath-breakers, because after doing the Lord's work
six days in the week, a W. C. T. U. woman was said to
have slept — " rested," according to the commandment —
on Sunday. On this charge, and because a speaker in
returning to my house after a Sunday address took a
ride in the last half hour of the day in a street-car, a
resolution of endorsement of the W. C. T. U. failed
to pass in a Louisiana Conference of the Methodist
Episcopal Church South, and we were cruelly hurt by
the tone of the discussion.
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. 183
General Conference lifted us out of despair by noble
resolutions against licensing the liquor traffic, and
thereafter clerical dignitaries broke our hearts by a mas-
terly inactivity — or took a scourge of small cords and
proceeded, as it were, to drive us out with the hue and
cry of " women's rights," lest, should a woman vote, her
natural function should cease, and the sound of the
lullaby and sewing machine be no longer heard in the
land. It was comical sometimes to see how the bishops
and politicians moved on the same line and for the same
reason. But like some of our good bishops of slave-
holding times, these certainly will not shine with lustre
in the sky of history. Humbler ministerial brethren
endured reproach with us and fought our battles; then
we had sometimes the sorrow of seeing them removed
from places of influence to obscure points in the service
of the church. At last we and they tacitly understood
that a preacher who wrought valiantly for prohibition
jeoparded his "prospects.'" So it came that some who
had led us " went back " in the holy cause, and " stand-
ing afar off," justified themselves, saying, " I'm as good
a prohibitionist as you are, but I'm more practical."
Desperation seizes the soul of women in reform work
when a preacher or politician uses the word " practical" ;
we know we shall get his " sympathy " but never his
influence or his vote. And the diplomatic brother who
has to explain that he is a temperance man, may hold
clear qualifications for a citizenship in heaven, but is of
no account whatever as a citizen of the militant king-
dom of God on earth, that must fight against " princi-
184 Old Times in Dixie Land.
palities and powers " if it would win the world to the
principles of Christ.
It should be clearly understood that the legitimate
work of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union is to
close the open saloon, and not, as many mistake, to in-
terfere with personal liberty by forcing total abstinence
upon the individual. The members of the organization
in the interests of consistency must be total abstainers;
and because science pronounces alcohol a poison and an
active peril in the human body, a vigorous educational
propaganda is kept up in order that future generations
may be protected by knowledge against the dangers of al-
coholic drinks. The main point at issue is that the State
has no right to license an institution which is a cor-
rupter of public morals and a menace to social life. The
Supreme Court of the United States has so interpreted.
It is the sole duty of the State to protect and develop
citizens; to protect their lives, their property^ their
morals and their rights; to develop the highest t}^pe
of citizen that education by law and schoolhouse can
produce. The saloon hazards the well-being of every
citizen that is born to a State ; it annuls the work of the
church and the college; it disintegrates, degrades and
destroys family life — the unit of the State ; it impover-
ishes the home, pauperizes the child and debases man-
hood; it fills almshouses, jails and insane asylums; it
lays the burden of the support of these institutions
on the State; the taxes which all the people have paid
for their mutual protection and development are un-
righteously diverted to the sustenance of the victims of
the saloon; the State protects a small class of citizens
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. 185
in doing injury to the interests of all other classes. For
revenue, and for revenue only, it gives a right and a
power to the saloon to make an unending army of crim-
inals, paupers and lunatics out of the sons and daugh-
ters which every mother has gone down into the shadow
of death to deliver into the keeping of her country.
The motherhood of the enlightened world is arousing
against this treachery of the commonwealth to her
sacred trust. The State has no right to sell her sons
even unto righteousness; still less to deliver them into
the bonds of iniquity for a price. It is incredible that
the mother's revolt did not begin long ago, for even
the brute will fight for its young. But now they have
begun to understand their duty and their power, and
" so long as boys are ruined and mothers weep ; so long
as homes are wrecked and the sob of unsheltered chil-
dren finds the ear of God; so long as the Gospel lets
in the light for the lost, and Christ is King, there will
be a contest on the temperance question until victory.
So long as this Christian nation sanctions the destruc-
tion of its sons for revenue, and sets on a legalized
throne ' that sum of all villainies,' the saloon ; so long
as f the wicked are justified for reward ' and cities are
built with blood, there will be a prohibition issue, and
one day the right will triumph."
NERVOUS PROSTRATION AND A VENERABLE COUSIN.
I once heard a woman say that she had lived half a
lifetime before she realized that the commandments were
written for her. In a vague sort of way she had appro-
priated, " Thou shalt not steal/' " Thou shalt not bear
false witness ; " but she did not intend to do these things
— the commandments must be for those who did. Her
dumb amazement may be imagined on hearing a venera-
ble and saintly soul state that she was so grateful to
God that in her long life she had had no temptation to
be a Magdalen. It was unthinkable that she should
But the stress of life grew to agony ; disappointments
and wrongs heaped upon my friend; and one day she
stood bare-souled and alone before God. confronting the
commandment : " Thou shalt not kill ! " In her strug-
gle back to the Divine she learned that all of the com-
mandments were written for her. Ever since, her heart
has been pierced with tenderest sympathy for every man
or woman who has fallen before temptation, and the
despair of the suicide seems her own.
Unvarying good health and steady nerves were my
inheritance, and my husband's fine, calm judgment
helped to increase my nervous vigor. I am afraid I
Nervous Prostration. 187
had once a quiet disdain for nervous women, and was
supercilious towards what I deemed a lack of moral
fiber, believing that with it health conditions would not
have become " all at loose ends." But a time came when
I too was going from sofa to easy chair, and dropping
back into bed limp and trembling ; when the banging of
a door or the rustling of a paper " set me wild ; " when
I was being a means of grace to all my family through
giving them an opportunity to " let patience have its
perfect work " — and all with no justifying cause, except
that the iron of sorrow had entered my soul, the color
had been taken from my life, and I had not yet found
my readjustments. Nevertheless I denied my condi-
tion, and so one day the doctor tried to explain it to me.
" A person," he began, " is said to be nervous when pre-
senting a special susceptibility to pain, or exhibiting
an undue mobility of the nervous system, as when one
starts, or shakes on the occasion of abrupt or intense
sensorial impressions, thus showing an exalted emotional
susceptibility. The heart itself under the influence of
nervous stimulation may in a moment change its cus-
tomary order and rate of action, and in extreme cases
cease to beat. The whole mental processes, as well as
the functions of organic life, may be seriously involved.
Now in your case, madam "
" Stop, doctor. I take in the fact," said I, " which is
evident in your high-sounding phrases, that nervous
prostration is a killing complaint and you are going to
treat me for it."
" Perhaps so," said the doctor. " It often happens
that an exaltation or diminution of activity in some one
188 Old Times in Dixie Land.
portion of the nervous system causes perverted action
in another part, as when any unusual strain has been
thrown upon you."
" For instance," said I, " when a friend came last
Sunday and allowed me to carry up-stairs her grip-sack
with books in it ? "
" Politeness should never require you to do such a
thing," said the doctor, " but the strain may not be any
physical exertion or overwork; deficient sleep, any sud-
den shock of joy or fear, especially terror, might prove
" I was much frightened last summer,'' said I, " by
a stroke of lightning which destroyed an immense oak
tree in front of the door. It was a worse panic than
that which seizes one on seeing one's husband bringing
three gentlemen to dinner, when there is only one good
little porter-house steak in the house."
" Allow me to say," continued the doctor, " nervous-
ness characterizes women more than men. It some-
times comes on as a sequence of severe illness, some
grave anxiety, some physical or moral shock, like the
unexpected discovery of perfidy or disloyalty on the part
of a friend. Then, too, nervous prostration is brought
on by unremitting or monotonous duties, which keep
the same paths of action from day to day."
" I was told," said I, " of a lawyer who entering his
office the other day read upon his slate the statement
that he would be back in half an hour; in a fit of ab-
sence of mind he took a seat and waited for himself, and
it was some time before he realized that he was in his
own office, and that he was not one of his own clients."
Nervous Prostration. 189
" That/' replied the doctor, " was no worse than the
case of the reverend gentleman who on going out one
morning gathered up an ordinary business coat and car-
ried it around the whole day, thinking it was his over-
coat, and was more surprised than anybody else when in-
formed of his mistake. These examples are evidences
and symptoms of nervous disorder. I never knew a man
to hurt himself by mere bodily labor ; but excessive men-
tal toil is certainly capable of damaging the nervous tis-
sues. Any calamity, misfortune, pecuniary loss, or
accident is liable to bring on nervous prostration. What
are the symptoms? Loss of sleeping power, incapacity
and aversion to work, lassitude, headache, an anxious
and cross expression of countenance, heart disturbance,
cramp — all these may be indications of local nervous
" Doctor, how do you propose to exterminate this
formidable enemy ? "
" For the treatment of nervous diseases," said he,
" we have at our disposal invaluable remedies whose
action is more or less special. There is strychnine, bro-
mide of potassium, possessing the opposite properties of
increasing and diminishing the reflex excitability of the
nervous system, in addition to other beneficial modes of
action. Then we have chloral and morphine, acting
directly and indirectly as hypnotics, thus allowing the
curative action of rest to come into play. For pain, we
have opium, Indian hemp, subcutaneous injections of
morphia, and the galvanic current. We have any num-
ber of drugs for influencing, relaxing, mitigating pain,
reinforcing the nutrition of wasted muscles. Then
190 Old Times in Dixie Land.
there are nervine tonics, preparations of zinc, arsenic,
iron, quinine, phosphorus, cod-liver oil, to say nothing
of cold or tepid douches, and the massage treatment."
" Good gracious ! " I exclaimed, " am I to swallow all
these poisonous things ? "
" There is no occasion for alarm, madam. I don't
propose to prescribe all these things at once. The first
thing I shall order is very important — it is a simple but
nutritious diet. Eat plenty of ripe fruit; drink pure,
distilled water; take plenty of gentle but regular exer-
cise, and sleep as much as possible. You must be sur-
rounded by agreeable society, have plenty of fresh air
and excellent food, and with temperance, avoiding all
excitement and mental exertion, I hope you will soon be
" But, doctor, suppose baby Laura falls down-stairs
or the house takes fire ? "
" You are to be kept ignorant of all such things. The
medicine you need is perfect rest, for after all it is the
most powerful therapeutic agent when you understand
its nature and the indications for its use. You rest
your body in sleep, you rest your mind by looking on
beautiful things, hearing good music, and thinking of
nothing. Sleep is a preventive of disease, and the
want of it, if carried too far, causes death. Sleep is
balm to the careworn mind and over-wrought brain.
In these days of emulation and worry, the waste of
nerve force must be repaired by sleeping and cessation
from all work. Now is the time to stop, lest you come
to the door of the insane asylum. I repeat, absolute
rest," said the doctor, striking his cane on the floor.
Nervous Prostration. 191
" and no stimulants to excite rapid circulation The
brain recovers slowly and resents too early demands on
it after any injury. The general health must be main-
tained at the highest possible standard, and you must
not worry. You must be a philosopher."
" Doctor," said I, " I can do better than that ; I can
be a Christian. I can say, ' Yes, Lord,' to whatever
God sends. That is the philosophy of Hannah Whitall
Smith, and I have tested its efficacy."
" Yes, madam, I too," said the doctor, " would recom-
mend anything of a soothing, tranquilizing character.
I shall call to-morrow; good morning."
1 have reflected somewhat since those days, and when
a woman tells me now that she is suffering from nervous
prostration I know that she is struggling with a disease
— a mournful, painful, destructive actuality. Emerson
says, "when one is ill something the devil's the matter."
I know it is so with a woman, for all the peace and joy
of life go out of her with sickness. I believe, too, that
she would be subject to less nervous prostration if she
had greater part in the more enlarging and ennobling
human activities. But as mother earth reinvigorated
him who touched her, so what life we have comes from
God, and indwelling with the Divine ought to renew us
body and soul. Christ Himself may not have revealed
the miracle of health to the apostles, but He taught them
to use, it. Mankind soon lost connection with the spirit-
ual dynamo of revitalization — except most intermitting-
ly. But has this been so through necessity or by reason
of gross materialism ? Among " the greater things than
these " of the promise, may not highly spiritualized na-
192 Old Times in Dixie Land.
tures already be refmding the natural laws of healthful
living through emphasizing the rightful dominance of
man's spiritual being ? " All my fresh springs are in
Thee ! " " I will arise in newness of life " cannot refer
to the soul without including the body, for the greater
includes the less. The tendency to give less and less
medicine; the declaration of the medical world that
drugs are not curative; the healing of the body by the
invisible forces of nature, as is being done every day —
all these things electrify with the hope that the world is
about to discover " the miracles in which we are nour-
ished." The revelation of the 20th century may be how
to pull out that " nail of pain " which, according to
Plato, fastens the mind to the body; and the joy of
simple, harmonious existence may become a reasonable
hope to suffering mortals.
After this experience of illness I made a trip through
Canada and the East. With new vigor and the old
interest I resumed my home duties and was preparing
to enjoy our New Orleans carnival season, when one
morning the housemaid announced : " Mis' C&lline, I
do b'lieve Eex is come, fur dar's er ole man at de do'
wid er shabby umbril an' de ole-es' han'bag — an' he say
he's you' cousin ! " I hastened to meet him, and knew at
once who it was; but the old man was in an exhausted
condition. He said : " I have some brandy with me,
and I need it. I have been very sick, but I thought I
was well enough to come to see you once more before I
die." I administered a stimulant to old cousin Jimmie,
and in a cheerful strain he continued : " Oh, you're so
like your ma, cousin. She was an angel, and your.
Nervous Prostration. 193
worldly-minded old pa gave her lots of trouble, for your
ma was pious, and she had a hard time to get him into
the church. Cousin David was a fine man, too, and he
had to give in at last to the blessed persuasion of cousin
Betsey, your angel-mother."
The next day I observed cousin Jimmie was holding
a wooden whistle in his hand, and blowing softly into it,
I inquired what it was. " This whistle," he said, " is
older than your old spinning-wheel and the ancient chiny
in the corner cupboard." " But, I enquired, what is the
use of it?" Cousin Jimmie replied: "They called up
the crows with it, so they could shoot 'em." " I always
regarded crows as harmless creatures whose inky black-
ness of color was very useful as a comparison," I re-
plied. " Well, you never knowed anything at all about
crows," said cousin Jimmie. " I tell you, when a crow
lights on a year o' corn, they eats every single grain
before they stop; and I tell you they are suspicious
critters, too — these crows ! I used to thread a horse-
hair into a needle and stick it in a grain 0' corn, and
draw the hair through, and tie it, and throw it around,
and they would pick it up and swallow the corn. Then
1 would stand off and watch the rascals scratchin' their
beaks tryin' to get rid 0' the hair, until they got so
bothered they would quit that field and never come
back. I was a little boy, them days." " Yes," said I,
" and boys are so cruel." " Maybe so," said cousin
Jimmie; "but I wa'n't 'lowed to have a gun to shoot
'em — crows nor nuthin 5 else. Boys was boys them days,
not undersized men struttin' 'round with a cigyar in
their mouths, too grand to lay holt of a plow handle.
194 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Why, some big boys, sixteen years old, can't ketch a
horse and saddle him, let alone put him to a buggy all
right. I know that for a fact ! "
" Do you like roast lamb and green peas, cousin
Jimmie? — for that is what we have for dinner to-day;
but I can order anything else you like better? " " I'm
not hard to please, cousin," he answered. " I like good
fat mutton — and turnips ; but cousin, them turnips
must be biled good and done. Done turnips never hurt
nobody. Why, when I had the pneumony last winter I
sent and got a bagful — and I had 'em cooked all right ;
and way in the night, whilst I had a fever, I would
retch out and get a turnip and eat it. Bile 'em good
and done and they can't hurt nobody — sick or well."
" I never heard of sick people eating turnips,"
" But you see I have, and has eat 'em, and am here
to tell you about 'em."
" General Grant is nominated for President," said I,
looking over the morning paper. " Grant, did you say ?
I'll never vote for him ! He wasn't satisfied with
$25,000 for salary, but wanted $50,000 ; and ncx' time
he'll want a hundred thousand. Do you know, cousin,"
said the old man, " that them Yankees robbed me of
one hundred and fifty niggers? The government ought
to pay me for 'em. They had no more right to take
them niggers than they had to steal my horses and
mules — which they stole at the same time. I tell you,
they must pay me for my property ! " and cousin Jimmie
came down with a heavy blow of his walking cane on
the rug. " Ef they don't pay me they are the grandest
Nervous Prostration. 195
set 0' villyuns on top 0' earth! When the blue-coated
raskils was goin' up the Cheney ville road they met up
with two runaways old Mr. Ironton had caught and hob-
bled with a chain. A Yankee said it was a shame for
a human bein' to be treated so. Mrs. Ironton flung
back at 'em : ' I don't care ! you may show them to the
President himself, and hang them round his neck, if
you like.' The old woman was so sassy that the man
simmered down. I heard another officer inquire very
perlite, ef it was customary to sarve the niggers this
way, and I said we had to do something to keep 'em down
in their places; and, no matter how bad a nigger wa6,
he was too valuable to kill, so we punished 'em in other
" To-morrow is my birthday," sighed cousin Jimmie,
" and I'll be eighty-eight years old." I celebrated the
day for him and made him some presents ; and I asked
him to tell me bravely and truly whether or not he
would be willing to live his life over, to accumulate all
the money and estate he once possessed, to become a
second time sick and old and destitute. Cousin Jimmie
was silent a moment; then his aged eyes twinkled, and
a smile spread over his still handsome old face : " I
would try it over; life is mighty sweet; I'm not ready
to give it up, cousin." "But you must before long
relinquish all there is in this life." " Well," said he,
" I've made pervision. I gave my niece Mary all my
silver and my red satin furniture, and my brother
has promised to bury me with my people in Mississippi.
I'm all right there."
196 Old Times in Dixie Land.
" I've heard, cousin Jimmie, that you denied the
globular shape of the earth. How is that?"
' " Why, I lenow the earth is flat. 'Taint fashionable
to say so, but it don't stand to reason that the world is
round and flyin' in the air, like folks say. 'Tain't no
sech thing — else eyes ain't no account."
Two years more of this life, and then old cousin
Jimmie — who was my father's first cousin on his
mother's side — was able from some other planet, we
hope, to investigate the shape of this one to which he
had clung so loyally.
ENTER— AS AN" EPISODE MRS. COLUMBIANA PORTER-
There are characters of such marked and peculiar
individuality that they loom upon one's consciousness
like Stonehenge, or any other magnificent ruin, as
Charles Lamb says of Mrs. Conrady's ugliness; and
their discovery " is an era in one's existence." In this
way one of my intimate associates, Mrs. Columbiana
Porterfield, stands preeminent in my early and later
recollections; but I was sorry to see into her. Every
time we were together it impressed me more vividly
than before, that self was the great center about which
everything revolved for her. All her sympathies were
related to that idol. No small human creature inter-
ested her large mind, except as connected with herself.
She was devoted to her church, especially to its minis-
ters, but it was a sanctuary where she worshiped self
in the guise of godliness, and her own honor and glory
was what she worked for in the name of the Master.
At one time the sense of her colossal selfishness so ate
into my spirit of charity that I tried to work it off by
writing out, to one of my intimates, the following let-
ters which embrace actual incidents and individual
experiences through which are revealed Columbiana's
198 Old Times in Dixie Land.
inordinate ambitions and desires for distinction — "her
mark, her token; that by which she was known." Per-
haps she may stand like a lighthouse to warn off other,
women from the same shoals.
Miss Columbiana Porterfield was fat, fair, and al-
most forty years old when she became a winter visitor
al Colonel Johnson's plantation home in the far South.
She was so much respected and admired by the Colonel
that when his wife died he urgently invited her to fill
the void in his heart and home.
The position seemed advantageous, and the lady ac-
cepted the situation, entering confidently upon the duties
involved, resolving to adapt herself to her surroundings
when she could not bend circumstances to her own strong
will. She was a sensible woman, and her good hus-
band loved her with a doting, foolish fondness which he
had never exhibited to the departed wife of his youth.
The family servants did not hesitate in giving her
the allegiance due to power and place, and they were
careful to pay all deference to the new mistress; there-
fore Mrs. Johnson was surprised to overhear the house-
woman saying to the cook : " I tell yer dat ar white
'oman from de Norf ain't got dem keen eyes in dat
big head 0' hern for nuthin'; I'm afeered of her, I is
dat." The lady was wisely deaf to these remarks, but
they rankled in her mind several days.
One of the neighbors thought Mrs. Johnson was not
a good housekeeper, because she had apple fritters for
Mrs. Columbiana Porterfield. 199
dinner, when there was ample time to make floating-
island and even Charlotte Russe before that meal was
served. Yet with all this talk it was easy to see that the
newly-adopted head of the household had completely
identified herself with her family.
There are Americans who go to Europe, and after a
short stay no longer regard the United States as a fit
dwelling-place for civilized beings; who indulge them-
selves in the abuse of scenery, climate, customs and
government of their own native land as freely as any
hostile-minded foreigner. Therefore it is not strange
that Northerners who come to live in the South should
become attached to their surroundings, and even prefer
them to all others which they ever knew.
Mrs. Johnson loved her stepchildren, Harry and
Lucy. She taught them to call her " aunt/' but their
own mother could not have been more devoted to the
children of the father who had lain down and died
amidst the great conflict which was a horror to the
whole country. Mrs. Johnson was greatly agitated by
the war and its results, and as soon as possible after
this cruel strife was over, she took Lucy with her on
a visit to her Northern home, leaving Harry behind.
Among the first letters sent back was the following,
dated October 15th, 1867:
My dearest Harry, — My sister was rejoiced to
see me alive once more; but I feel like a stranger, for
when I look at your sister I cannot realize that she is
here where she does not belong. It is a visible contrast
of two extremes, my family representing one, and Lucy,
200 Old Times in Dixie Land.
•the other. The North and South will hreakfast together
to-morrow morning on buckwheat cakes and codfish
balls. Everybody loves your little rebel sister. Even
the girl in the kitchen dotes on her, and looks lovingly
on the dear girl while she is demolishing the dainty
dishes she has compounded for her delectation. I don't
mean fish-balls, for she hates them.
I know she thinks Lucy is an angel, while I suspect
I am thought to be exactly the reverse, judging by the
disagreeable, reluctant way she has of serving me. A
woman who had been teaching the freedmen down in
South Carolina came here last week to collect money
for them. Everybody went to hear her speak, and Lucy
just went along with the rest. It was a highly im-
proper thing for a Southern girl to do. I knew it, but
could not put my veto on it and make myself odious to
the family, so I held my peace and let her go, though
I should have been ashamed to be seen in such a place.
She told me all about it. however, and you have a right
to be proud of your noble sister. She conquered her
nerves and sat perched on a front seat and listened with
great attention, and almost repeated the whole thing
for me when she came home.
The woman dilated eloquently upon the awful sin
of caste prejudice existing among the abominable South
Carolina aristocrats, who, while they would accost and
speak to the colored pupils, were so stuck up that they
regarded the white teachers as no better than the dirt
under their feet. After the speech was over, they took
up a collection, and when my sister told me she saw
Lucy put in five dollars, I was just too provoked to say
Mrs. Columbiana Porterfield. 201
a word. To do this foolish thing after all our losses
was too much — when she has ordered a new pelisse
from New York, too.! I could scarcely sleep for think-
ing of this folly. The cold weather gives me a despond-
ency anyhow. It makes me think of my own home in
the South, with all its comforts and the beautiful wood
fires, now mine no longer. True, the house is mine, the
dear Colonel gave me that, and the land, and the stock.
There is the old family carriage and the horses; but it
is bitter as wormwood and gall to have no one here to
drive me out or do the smallest thing for me unless I
pay out money which I no longer possess. It was a
wicked thing to ruin and break up our homes like this,
but, my dear boy, we must try to be content with what
God sends. Our portion is not money, but water; an
overflow of it in the river, and too many caterpillars in
the cotton fields eating up our crops. You must be
prepared to suffer poverty and affliction without slaves
to polish your boots and rub down your horses. You
may even be obliged to chop kindling for me to cook
with, before you are done.
The old purposes, habits and customs cannot be car-
ried out any longer. You must not think of matrimony.
You ought now to wait until you are thirty years old
before you attempt to make a shipwreck of your life by
marriage. But I do know a perfect Hebe who would
suit you exactly. She comes here often. Oh! she is a
dainty warbler, not quite full-fledged, but superior,
noble, magnificent in design, able to soar higher than
any of those finiky, twittering little canaries you love
to play with. A splendid ancestry, too, as ever lived,
202 Old Times in Dixie Land.
solid, wealthy men, though some of them are deterio-
rated by having married wives who were nobody. Some
women dwarf men's souls by their own littleness. I
hope you will not fall a victim to any such.
You must keep up the family prestige; your tal-
ents and associations demand a foremost place, and you
must refuse to commonize yourself with that low, ig-
norant, profane, dram-drinking set of young men
around you. I do heartily despise them all, and have
never received them in my house when I could help it.
They would gladly drag you down to their own level if
How these good New Englanders rejoice in the
emancipation of the slaves ! All my friends and rela-
tions chuckle over it, so that it looks to me like malice
triumphant. Lucy came out last Sunday in a beautiful
new hat and pelisse from New York, looking like the
daughter of a duchess; and old cousin Althea said that
she did not look that day as much like ruin as she had
expected when she saw me and Lucy getting out of
the carriage in our shabby old war clothes. That old
thing is perfectly hateful and always was.
If our old servants are still with you, say " howdie "
to them for me. I hope Chloe has not run off with her
freedom anywhere. She does make such nice waffles
and French rolls. You must contrive some way to keep
Chloe if I am expected to spend much time with you.
Your loving aunt,
Mrs. Columbiana Porterfield. 203
My dear Harry, — Lucy has a beau. She denies
the fact, but there is a gentleman here from New York
who is an intimate friend of my brother, and he looks
at your sister and watches her so eagerly, and does so
many things to please her and to promote my comfort,
that I am dead sure it is an elaborate case of love. I
do not think him a suitable match for Lucy in every
respect, but he is very useful to accompany us on ex-
cursions and he manages a pair of horses admirably,
and it is convenient to have such a man around. We
went to cousin Sabina Suns' yesterday, where we were
all invited to dine and to meet the Bishop and Prof.
Elliott. I made occasion to pass through the dining-
room. Heaps of red currants in lovely cut-glass bowls,
golden cream in abundance, white mountain cake and
luscious peaches were set out for dessert, instead of the
everlasting doughnuts and perpetual pie which you see
everywhere. Not that I care for dessert. I knew we
should have oyster soup and a pair of roasted fowls
and all accompaniments of a regular dinner, for Sabina
Suns' girl is the best cook I have found anywhere.
We were all sitting in the west drawing-room, and
the Bishop had not yet arrived, when somehow we got
upon the subject of the late unpleasantness, and Sa-
bina Suns blurted out that Jefferson Davis was a traitor,
and ought to be hanged. Tears came to Lucy's eyes and
the blood mounted to her temples. She suddenly dis-
appeared. I saw the fire in the child's eyes and felt the
bitterness in her heart, though I said nothing to her,
204 Old Times in Dixie Land.
but I begged Sabina to spare our feelings, for I saw she
had gone too far. In a few moments Lucy appeared
with her hat and gloves and bade cousin Sabina Suns
good-by, and went away before our astonishment had
I wanted Lucy to meet the Bishop and the young
college professor of entomology. I had been telling her
what a fine young man he was, of such a wealthy fam-
ily, and it now became her to be on the lookout for some
better establishment than any poor Southerner could
offer. She is young and pays little attention to what I
say. Sabina was rude and unkind, but the Bishop and
Professor were coming, and then there was the dinner,
so I remained and really had a splendid time, except
for this unpleasant episode.
I intended to scold Lucy, butwhenlreachedmysister's
house I found it was no use. Lucy's fiery indignation
would brook no reproof. She opened the flood-gates of
her wrath upon Sabina without mercy. She said the
woman had elevated one of her enormous feet upon the
other as though such cruel language must inevitably
be accompanied by some vulgar action, and her two
feet so elevated seemed high enough for a common gal-
lows post. To be candid, I was almost scared to death
to see your sister so angry and spiteful. But I like a
woman of spirit; it is not best, however, to run off on
a tangent in the face of good company and a first-class
dinner. My dear Harry, I think you are better trained,
and would have shown more common sense under the
The Hightowers, who have so often entertained me in
Mrs. Columbiana Porterfield. 205
New York, want their son Howard to come to the moun-
tains or go somewhere to rest after he is graduated,
and I have invited him to come up here as a sort of re-
turn hospitality for a long visit I made with them.
The New York beau is soon to leave. I could not under-
stand that Lucy promoted his departure in any way,
but I thought Howard would be useful. Not that I
think he would be a more desirable parti than the .other,
but it is handy to have a young fellow around to wait
upon us or take us to different places. He will come
next week, but I shall not apprise my sister, who might
object at the last moment, though I am sure she will
treat him well, as she does all my friends.
Lucy dressed herself with great elegance this evening.
T did not think it was worth while to be wasting her
best dry goods and her dear self on the people she was
going to visit; and as I sat in her dressing-room and
saw her laced up in her new lavender silk, which is
supremely becoming to her lovely complexion, and
then pin on a rich Brussels lace collar, I could not help
reproving her by reminding her of her long deceased
elder sister, who, I said, doubtless was looking down
from heaven in sorrow and disapprobation of such vani-
ties. " Oh, Aunt Columbia ! " said she, " Nanny Jones
was right when she said you had such a terrible way of
throwing up a girl's dead kinfolks to her; please don't
make me cry; I don't want to go to the party with red
eyes." Henry, that Jones girl ought never to have
been invited to your uncle Joseph's house. She was an
incorrigible piece, and was a great trial to me that
month she spent with me.
206 Old Times in Dixie Land.
I do hope you go regularly to church. It looks beau-
tiful to see a high-bred young gentleman sitting in his
father's pew. The desecration of the Sabbath in our
Southern country is perfectly awful. I never could
bear to see it. You know your uncle Joe, Christian
as he proposes to be, will say to his wife : " Julia, if
you must have a cold dinner once a week, get it in on
a week day; on Sunday I must have something better
than usual, and it must be fresh and hot." I frequently
stopped there after church and dined with him, so I
was well aware of this bad example, right in our own
family, as it were.
One would think, after fighting through such a long,
bloody war, that our young men would have done with
all private killing and murdering, and would settle
down at home and be industrious and peaceful; so I
was all the more shocked to hear that young Joe Mc-
Donald had shot and killed Billy Whitfield, and all
about a trifling little Texas pony. Joe actually had the
impertinence to write to Lucy explaining that he only
acted in self-defense, and begging her not to refuse to
speak to him when she returned. She shall never an-
swer his letter or look at him again with my consent. I
tremble for you, my dear boy, subject as you are to such
dreadful associations, and I pray that you may be kept
in safety from every evil-influence.
Make Chloe look after the poultry. If she sets some
hens now, they (the chickens) will be ready for broiling
by Christmas. You know how fond I am of young
chickens for supper. I have eaten enough cold bread
Mrs. Columbiana Porterfield. 207
up here to last a lifetime. It may be good for dys-
peptics, but I am not one.
.Your loving aunt,
My dear Harry, — I do miss the New York man.
He was a quiet, sensible gentleman, and if you happened
to utter an idea above the average he was always able
to respond and keep the ball of conversation passing
agreeably around the table and fireside. There are so
many men who will not take the trouble to answer a
lady's question with any serious thoughtfulness. This
boy Howard is not a goose by any means, but he is full
of animal spirits and all sorts of pranks. He has kept
Lucy racing about over the country so that she has no
time for anything else. Two weeks ago I ripped up my
old black satin dress which did not set right in the back,
and there it lies waiting for Lucy to put it together —
for I do hate dressmakers' bills, and your sister learned
the whole science of remodeling old clothes during the
war, when she could not buy any cloth to save her life.
Lucy can embroider and do all kinds of needlework,
but she is letting the needle lie idle and putting out
all her own sewing, which I cannot allow her to do with
a good conscience.
I noticed the other day that Howard had Lucy's dia-
mond ring on his little finger, and now she tells me he
lost one of the stones out of it when he went after pond
lilies yesterday. The boy was plagued and worried
over it and said he would replace it; but that is non-
208 Old Times in Dixie Land.
sense, for the Hightowers would never have sent Howard
here on my invitation if they had money to buy dia-
monds. I made Lucy put away the ring in her trunk,
and told her jewels were unbecoming to a Christian girl
and her father ought never have given her any dia-
We are going to visit a mountain to-morrow. Lucy
is wild after such things, and no wonder, living so long
in a flat country which can boast of nothing which con-
stitutes scenery, not even a pebble or a brook of clear
water. These hills are perfectly heavenly with their
grassy slopes ornamented by noble trees, and then the
meadows so fragrant with new-mown hay; I am lost in
admiration myself, so I cannot blame the raptures of
this unsophisticated child of nature, who sees it all for
the first time.
My sister's horses are high-spirited creatures, and
Howard, who has had no experience in driving, insisted
upon taking the reins, when they ran away and Lucy
was thrown out ; and the funniest thing happened to her
in a wonderful and providential manner ; she was landed
upon a bed a farmer's wife had put out to sun before
her door. She fell right in on the feathers and not a
bone was broken. But my heart failed me when
Howard came home at a late hour, with the side of his
face scratched and bruised, and helped Lucy out of the
battered carriage, which had to be repaired before it
could be driven home.
I shall greatly rejoice when that boy takes his leave,
for I am in hourly dread of his impetuosity in getting
us into trouble.
Mrs. Columbiana Porterfield. 209
Still, he is a bright, noble spirit, and is so penitent
when he does anything wrong that I must needs forgive
him. I really fear my sister is beginning to weary of
my young friend. I think the broken phaeton has some
influence on her feelings.
I have no time to write a long letter, so I enclose one
which I have just read from your cousin Maria which
contains a great lesson for a young man setting out in
life — one which I hope you will lay to heart.
Dear Auntie, — Tell Lucy to have the lilac silk dress
made up, which she is commissioned to buy for me. We
are the same size almost, so it can be fitted to her shape,
and I want it trimmed with real lace. I never saw any
lace while the war went on and I long to feel once more
like a lady. I think a liberal quantity of fine applique
or real Brussels lace would help me to realize the
Union is truly restored. So Lucy must reserve one-
half the money I send for the dress to be invested in this
But I must tell you, Auntie, such a strange thing
happened night before last. It was after midnight and
everybody was in bed when a loud knocking at the hall
door waked us all up, and father went down to see who
it was. What was our surprise to see our neigbor's
wife, Mrs. McAlpine, all wet with rain, without any
hat or shawl, her long black hair hanging down her
back, the very picture of a forlorn and despairing crea-
ture. She begged my father to take her in and conceal
her, for she said she had run away from home, for her
husband was going to kill her if he could find her. My
210 Old Times in Dixie Land.
mother asked her what she had done to awaken such
wrath and vengeance, and she replied : " Nothing at
all ; Mr. McAlpine had been drinking and was wild from
the effects of liquor." Mother gave the poor lady the
guest chamber and sent me to her room with dry cloth-
ing, and I assisted her to undress. Auntie, when I
pulled her wet dress down from her white shoulders
what was my horror to see them all bruised and seamed
in every direction as by the marks of whip or cowhide.
" Oh, my God," said I, " what a shame ! " She quickly
covered herself with the gown I brought, while tears
silently flowed down her pale cheeks. My own blood
boiled with indignation and I resolved that I never
would speak to the handsome, gentlemanly brute who
had committed this outrage upon his patient and gentle
wife. I told mother what I had seen and she turned
pale and told me to say nothing to anyone, but try to
contribute in every way to the comfort of the unhappy
guest who had come to us in such a singular way. The
next day about ten o'clock Mr. McAlpine came and asked
to see father. When Mrs. McAlpine found her hus-
band was in the house she seemed crazed with a mortal
terror and begged mother to lock her up in the closet
and " save " her. Mother tried to reassure her, but in
vain ; nor did she draw an easy breath until she saw him
driving down the avenue after his long interview with
father was over. Late that evening father called
mother and me into the library and informed us that
we must not feel so hostile toward the man whose un-
happy wife we were entertaining, for he was entitled
to our sympathy and pity, and he was sorry to tell us
that Colonel McAlpine was the wretched victim of an
Mrs. Columbiana Porterfield. 211
intemperate wife, whom he had tried in vain to reform
and restrain and in fact he had resorted to everything
else before using the lash and my father was convinced
of the truth of his version of the miserable story.
The Colonel begged us to keep the lady quiet for a
day or two and then bring her home. It seemed to me
nothing could excuse such brutality, and when mother
grew somewhat reserved to her unbidden guest, I never
varied in my conduct, and she was quick to appreciate
my kindness. When two days had passed, to my sur-
prise she herself proposed to return and asked me to
drive over with her to her home. I was reluctant to
leave her then, but the Colonel received her with such
an apparent kindness and cordiality that I was en-
tirely reassured and I tried to banish the recollection
of those dreadful marks on his wife's shoulders. But
what could I do under the circumstances? The woman
said she must go home — to her child.
You will think this is enough of tragedy, but wait,
dear Auntie, until you hear the end. Last night Mr.
McAlpine shot his wife through the heart, then blew
out his own brains, and the whole country is perfectly
horrified, and the wildest rumors are going around.
Father has written to their friends in New York, and
mother has agreed to take care of the baby until they
come for it.
It seems really frivolous for me to go back to the dress
question after these horrors, but tell Lucy to have our
dresses made open a little in the neck, as they are for
THE SOUTHERN WOMAN BECOMES A " CLUBABLE ** BEING.
In every individual life there enter events which in
their enlarged influence are analogous to epoch-making
periods in the nation's history. Such, surely, was my
meeting with Susan B. Anthony, when she visited the
New Orleans Exposition in 1885. I had long kept a
vivid and dear picture of her in the inner sanctuary of
my mind; had become acquainted through the press
with the vigor of her intellect and the native independ-
ence and integrity of her character; had known she was
a woman "born out of due season," who had already
spent fifty years of her life trying to make " the rank
and file " of women and men see that the human race
in all its social relations is in bondage, while woman
occupies a position less than free. I had so long been
one with her in spirit and principles that I was not
prepared to feel so like a. little chicken looking into
the shell out of which it has just stepped, as I did feel
on coming face to face with all the expansiveness her
many years of service for women had wrought her own
New Orleans stretched out a friendly hand to Miss
Anthony. The surprise of finding her a simple,
The Southern Woman. 213
motherly, gentle-mannered woman instead of the typ-
ical woman's-rights exponent, disarmed and warmed
their hearts, so that press and people received her
cordially. She was invited to address the city public
schools, and spoke to many appreciative audiences dur-
ing the few weeks New Orleans had the uplift of her
presence. In a private letter of that date she said to
me : "I remember my visit to the Crescent City with a
great deal of pleasure, and cherish the friendships I
made there. We are finding out quite a good many fine
things about women in the Gulf States, so that I think
you may feel proud that so much true growth went on
— even while that other problem of freedom was being
" Susan B. Anthony/'
Miss Anthony's work here made a permanent impres-
sion on public thought; the personal hospitality of the
people meant a certain sort of receptivity of her cause,
for which the war era and the more trying decade fol-
lowing it was a period of incubation ; for unquestionably
all times of stress and effort and experience of soul
are seasons of enlargement, of suggestion, and form the
matrix of a new life. If movement be once started in
original cell structures, reforming is sure, and the new
species depends on the character of the environment.
Heart-rending and irremediable as were the personal
effects of the war to thousands, there is little doubt but
that it has resulted in definite gain to the whole people,
by establishing a system of self-reliance in place of re-
liance upon the labor of others ; and even more through
214 Old Times in Dixie Land.
the liberation of the general mind from captivity to the
belief in the ethical rectitude of human slavery.
But it takes the North a long time to come to any
true understanding of the Southern people. Certain
transient, exterior features — which are as impermanent
as the conditions that created them — have been mis-
taken for their real character, which depends upon in-
dwelling ideals — and these have always been thoroughly
American. The leisure for thought and study which
ante-bellum ease allowed to many molded a high-
thinking type that was true to the best intellectual and
Christian models, as the character of Southern public
men has evidenced. The simple integrity of the South-
ern ideal has had no match in national life except in
the rigid standard of New England. Puritan and
Huguenot — far apart as they seem — were like founders
of the rugged righteousness of American principles;
and in so far as we have forgotten our origin, has the
national character lost its purity.
The love of freedom is ingrained in the ideals of the
South. Its apparent conservatism is not hostility to
the new nor intense devotion to the old; it is more an
inevitable result of thin population scattered over wide
areas, with little opportunity for the frequent and direct
contact which is indispensable to the rapid and general
development of a common idea. It is not true that
Southern men are more opposed than others to the free-
dom of women. The several Codes show that the
Southern States were the first to remove the inequality
of women as to property rights. It must also be remem-
bered that a vigorous propaganda for the enfranchise-
The Southern Woman. 215
ment of women has been conducted for fifty years, at
great expense of time and talent, all over the North,
while it may be said -to have just begun in the South.
If in 1890 any effort had been made by the National
American Woman Suffrage Association to influence the
Constitutional Convention then in session in Mississippi,
the woman's ballot on an educational basis might have
been secured. Henry Blackwell was the only promi-
nent Northern suffragist who seemed to have a wide-
open eye on that convention. What he could he did,
gratis, to help the cause, and won the friendship and
gratitude of many in that State. The leading women
who were applied to offered not one word of apprecia-
tion of the situation — doubtless because they were ac-
customed to expecting nothing good out of Nazareth;
perhaps also because they would not aid what seemed
an unrighteous effort to eliminate the negro vote.
It is not the first time in suffrage history that the
white woman has been sacrificed to the brother in black.
A political necessity brought within a few votes the
political equality of woman. If Mississippi had then
settled the race question on the only statesmanlike and
just plan — by enfranchising intelligence and disfran-
chising ignorance — other States would have followed;
for the South generally desires a model for a just and
legal white supremacy— without the patent subterfuge
of "grandfather clauses." The heartbreak of any hu-
man soul or cause is not to have been equal to its oppor-
tunity. The whole woman's movement is yet bearing
the consequences of that eclipse of vision ten years ago.
The first ground broken in the cultivation of greater
216 Old Times in Dixie Land.
privileges for Louisiana women was the organization of
the Woman's Club of New Orleans. In 1884 — as nar-
rated in its history prepared for the World's Columbian
Exposition — in response to a notice in the New Orleans
Times-Democrat, twelve women met in the parlor of
the Young Men's Christian Association and organized
the first Woman's Club in the South.
Miss Elizabeth Bisland, now Mrs. Charles W. Wet-
more of New York, was its first president. Miss Bis-
land had already earned fair fame in literature, and the
South was justly proud of her. She afterwards chal-
lenged the world's notice by her swift girdling of the
globe in the interest of the Cosmopolitan Magazine.
The charter members of the pioneer club were of the
heroic type, and amid fluctuations of hope and despair,
forced on by the irresistible spirit of the age, founded
a society which numbered its members by hundreds, and
which secured and retained the sympathy and respect of
The Constitution provided at first only for working
women, but afterward eliminated this restriction. It
stated that, evolved as it was from a progressive civili-
zation, its movements must be elastic, its work versa-
tile and comprehensive. It estimated its own scope as
follows : " The vital and influential work of our club
must always be along sociological lines. The term em-
braces pursuits of study and pastime, our labors and re-
laxations. In the aggregate we are breaking down and
removing barriers of local prejudice; we are assisting
intellectual growth and spiritual ambition in the com-
munity of which we are a dignified and effective body —
The Southern Woman. 217
for the immense economy of moral force made possible
by a permanent organization such as ours, is well under-
stood by the thoughtful." It extended hospitality in
the public recognition of extraordinary achievements by
women, and helped to bring aspirants in art, literature
and sociology before appreciative audiences, and intro-
duced to New Orleans many world-renowned women
Being the first woman's club in the South it was the
subject of peculiar interest and attention from other
organizations of women, and was wise enough, from the
beginning, to ally itself with the general movement.
Its delegate was a conspicuous part of the National
Convention of Women's Clubs, held in New York in
1889, under the auspices of Sorosis; in 1892 it was
represented in the Convention of Federated Clubs, in
Chicago, by its president and delegate, and was present
in the General Federation of Women's Clubs in 1894.
It was the host, in connection with Portia Club, in 1895,
of the " Association for the Advancement of Women,"
which enjoyed for a week the novelty of the Crescent
City and its environs. ' ' '
Through its initiation, matrons were placed in station
houses and a bed was furnished in the " Women's and
Children's Hospital." It petitioned for a revocation of
Mrs. Maybrick's sentence, and distributed rations to the
sufferers in the great overflows of the Mississippi and
Texas rivers. It is clearly manifest from the foregoing
that the Woman's Club was the initial step of whatever
progression women have made through subsequent or-
218 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Following the enlarging influence of the New Orleans
Exposition in 1885--86, there came the great contest to
oyerthrow the Louisiana State Lottery. The whole
energy of the church and every citizen was called into
action all over the State. Women's Lottery Leagues
were formed in every town, — that in New Orleans
numbering 900 members ; it was denominated " the
crowning influence that resulted in victory." It is
impossible to overestimate the liberative value for
woman of this struggle brought to a successful issue;
or to reckon how far back into inertia she would have
been thrown by defeat; for the first time in our post-
bellum history it united women of all classes and ages
in a common moral and political battle-ground. The
federal anti-lottery law which has secured the results
of this victory may prove to be an invaluable precedent
for anti-trust legislation.
In 1892, in response to my invitation, some of the
strong, progressive and intellectual women of New
Orleans were ready to meet at my house and or-
ganize the first suffrage association in Louisiana.
It was formed with nine members, and was called
the " Portia Club." The officers were Mrs. Caro-
line E. Merrick, president; Mrs. Jas. M. Fergu-
son, vice-president; Mrs. Evelyn Ordway, treasurer.
Through its influence Governor Foster appointed four
women on the school 'boards of some of the Northern
parishes of Louisiana. It has done excellent educational
work by the discussion of such subjects as " Is the Wo-
man in the Wage-earning World a Benefit to Civiliza-
tion ? " " Is Organization Beneficial to Labor ? " " Has
The Southern Woman. 219
the State of Wyoming been Benefited by Woman Suf-
frage ? " " Would Municipal Suffrage for Women be a
Benefit in New Orleans ? " " The Initiative and Kef er-
endum;" "The Eepublic of Venice;" "Disabilities
of Women in Louisiana." The Portias have maintained
a leading part in all public causes that have enlisted
women, and in the interests of full suffrage were heard
by the Suffrage Committee of the Constitutional Con-
vention of 1898.
On the occasion of Miss Susan B. Anthony's seven-
tieth birthday, a reception at my house brought to-
gether not only those favorable to our undertaking but
many whom it was desirable to enlist. When that gen-
tle-faced, lion-hearted pioneer, Lucy Stone, yielded up
her beautiful, self-effacing life, the Portia Club held a
fitting memorial service. Mrs. Clara C. Hoffman made
a most memorable suffrage address for the Portias in
this city, which aroused tremendous enthusiasm. She
lectured extensively elsewhere in the State, and wrote
to me as follows after her visit here : " It is generally
claimed that Southern people are conservative and bit-
terly opposed to any mention of equal suffrage. In my
recent tour I found them not only willing but anxious
to hear the subject discussed. I came into Louisiana
at the request of the Woman's Christian Temperance
Union Convention, and had been informed that I must
not say anything about suffrage, as the people would not
bear it. In my first address I reviewed the hindering
causes that delay and prevent the establishment of
needed reforms, and showed the danger of enfranchis-
ing all the vice and ignorance in the land without seek-
220 Old Times in Dixie Land.
ing to counteract it; but I said not a word about what
the counteractant might be. The convention closed
with Sunday services; but before the day was gone I
received an invitation from leading citizens — profes-
sional and business men — to speak in the Opera House
in Shreveport at their expense, on Monday night, on
woman suffrage. A packed audience greeted me when
I was cordially introduced by a prominent lawyer. I
presented arguments, answered objections. Eound
after round of applause interrupted, and many crowded
about at the close, expressing themselves with utmost
warmth. How is that for Shreveport, and Louisiana ? "
Later Mrs. Hoffman spoke at Mjonroe and Lake
Charles with equal acceptance. One of our city papers
said of her : " Mrs. Hoffman entered bravely upon her
subject, interspersing her remarks with delicious bits of
witticism. She is a forcible and brilliant speaker, a
radical of the radicals, but disarms by her clear, genial
manner of presenting truth."
Besides the women's societies in the various churches,
which have done so much to widen the field of woman's
thought and endeavor, the Arena Club of New Orleans,
under the leadership of Mrs. James M. Ferguson, has
been a vital force. While tacitly endorsing suffrage, it
advances social, political and economic questions of the
day. Its latest efforts have been to create sentiment for
There has been a valuable period of training through
Auxiliaries. Every great movement, social and relig-
ious, had its Woman's Auxiliary. These helped to re-
veal to woman her own capacities and her utter want of
The Southern Woman. 221
power. But the day of the Auxiliary is done. If
some of the auxiliary women have not yet found out
what woman ought to do, they have discovered the next
best thing — what not to do !
In 1895 an amicable division of the Portia Club was
made, the offshoot becoming the Era Club — Equal Rights
Association. It was a vigorous child, full of progressive
energy, and soon outgrew its mother. Its original
members, like the Portia, were nine, as follows: Mmes.
Ferguson, Ordway, Hereford, Pierce, Misses Brewer,
Brown, Koppel, Nobles, Van Horn. At this junc-
ture Miss Anthony, accompanied by Mrs. Carrie Chap-
man Catt, strengthened our hearts and cause by her
presence. It was again my privilege to entertain
her in my home. She spoke to an enthusiastic audience
and Mrs. Catt was complimented in the same way.
The next morning the following letter from a leading
member of the New Orleans bar was brought to Miss
Anthony by a member of the Portia Club : " That was
a great meeting last night. When people are willing to
stand for three long hours and listen to speakers it means
something. There were ten or twelve men and a score
of women standing within ten feet of me, and not one
of them who did not remain to the end. There are few
men who can hold an audience in that way. I looked
around the Assembly Hall and counted near me eight
of my legal confreres, One of the most distinguished
lawyers in the State told me in court this morning that
Mrs. Catt's argument was one of the finest speeches he
had ever listened to. Yesterday I was asked at dinner
to define the word ' oratory.' Mrs. Catt is an exponent
222 Old Times in Dixie Land.
of ' the art of moving human hearts to beat in unison
with her own ' — which is the end and aim of oratory, —
and was that quality which made the Athenians
who heard Demosthenes declare that they would
( fight Philip.' Give the speaker a lawyer's compli-
Miss Anthony was much moved by this letter. " All
this," she said, " is so much sweeter than the ridicule
that used to come to me in those early days when I
Committees from the Portia and Era Clubs met in
November, 1896, in the parlors of the Woman's Club,
and organized a State Woman Suffrage Association,
with Mrs. Caroline E. Merrick, president; Mrs. Eveleyn
Ordway, vice-president; Miss Matilda P. Hero, corre-
sponding secretary; Miss Belle Van Horn, recording
secretary ; Mrs. Boseley, treasurer ; Mrs. Helen Behrens,
an ardent and able pioneer and present worker in the
cause, being made our first delegate to a National Con-
In 1898, the Era Club, in the name of Louisiana
women, presented to the Suffrage Committee of the
Constitutional Convention, then in session in New Or-
leans, the following petition : " In view of the fact that
one of the purposes of this Convention is to provide an
educational qualification for the exercise of the fran-
chise by which to guard more carefully the welfare of
the State, we, the undersigned, believing that still an-
other change would likewise conduce greatly to the wel-
fare of our people, pray that your honorable body will,
after deciding upon the qualifications deemed necessary,
The Southern Woman. 223
extend the franchise with the same qualifications to the
women of this State/'
Mrs. Evelyn Ordway, one of the most efficient and
public-spirited women of New Orleans, as president of
the Era Club, wisely and bravely led the women's cam-
paign. Owing to a rain which flooded the city, the most
of the woman's contingent were prisoners in their homes
on the day the petition was procured. Mrs. Lewis S.
Graham, and Misses Katharine Nobles, Kate and Jennie
Gordon alone were able to cross the submerged streets
to the Committee room. Mrs. Graham made the lead-
ing address, and was ably supported by her colleagues.
Mrs. Carrie Chapman-Catt, aided by Misses Laura
Clay, Mary Hay and Frances Griffin, had been busy
creating public sentiment by means of brilliant ad-
dresses both in and out of the Convention. Dr. Dick-
son Bruns should be ever held in grateful memory for
his constant and unflinching efforts in behalf of the
woman's petition, which was presented in Convention
by the Hon. Anthony W. Faulkner of Monroe.
There were many women and a few noble men who
were deeply stirred over the fate of our memorial. I
wrote to Miss Belle Kearney just after this hearing:
" You are needed right here, this very day, to speak what
the women want said for them now that the other speak-
ers are gone away. I am so dead tired and heart-sore
that I almost wish I were lying quiet in my grave
waiting for the resurrection! God help all women,
young and old! They are a man-neglected, God-for-
gotten lot, here in Louisiana, when they ask simply for
a reasonable recognition, and justice under the Consti-
224 Old Times in Dixie Land.
tution now being constructed, and under which they
must be governed and pay taxes. We pray in vain,
work always in vain. How that grand old martyr,
Susan Anthony, can still hold out is a marvel. The
Convention has apparently forgotten the women. They
discuss the needs of every man and his qualification for
the ballot. Yet, good women brought such men into the
world to keep other women in subjection and minority
forever ! — still, they love that sinner, man, better than
their own souls — and I know they will continue that
way to the end. But it is hard lines to be kept waiting.
The dead can wait, but we cannot! Oh, Lord, how
Once again, however, it was proven that nothing is
ever quite so bad as it seems, for the convention did
give the right to vote to all taxpaying women — a mere
crumb — but a prophetic-crumb. This much being gained
led, in 1899, to the organization, through the initiative
of the Era Club, of the " Woman's League for Sewer-
age and Drainage." That variable and imponderable
quantity, " influence," now had added to its much in-
voked " womanly sweetness " — power — a power which
could not only be felt but which would have to be
Mrs. Ordway tells in a little review of the movement,
that several months previous to the election many of
those who voted would have scouted the idea that they
should do so unwomanly a deed; — voting belonged to
men. Many did not even know that they had a right to
vote. The question proposed to them was one affecting
(the health and prosperity of New Orleans — whether or
The Southern Woman. 225
not they were willing to be additionally taxed in order
to secure pure water and an effective system of drainage.
There were about 10,000 taxpaying women in the city,
many of them small householders, owning the little
homes in which they dwelt. Owing to New Orleans
being peculiarly situated below the level of the Missis-
sippi river, and to the fact that there is no under-
ground drainage, many parts of the city are inundated
during heavy rains. There was much at stake. No
wonder the women were interested, and that parlor and
mass meetings were held, in which women were not
only invited but urged — even by the mayor and other
prominent men — to come forward with their votes.
When election day arrived, women found that they did
want the franchise, one-third of the votes cast being
contributed by them. After months of hard work and
a house-to-house canvass for signatures of taxpaying
women, who would vote personally or by proxy, the
battle was won, as was universally conceded, by the
energy of the woman's ballot.
Very many men and women soon realized the need of
full suffrage for women, in a quickly succeeding cam-
paign for the election of municipal officers who would
properly carry out the people's intent for sewerage and
drainage. Though they could not vote every courtesy
and respect was accorded the women, and their influence
was appealed to by the respective sides. The day has
dawned for woman's full enfranchisement in Louisiana.
In her farewell address after the victory the president
of the Woman's League, Miss Kate M. Gordon, — presi-
dent of the Era Club, — who had led the women's
226 Old Times in Dixie Land.
forces with an intelligent courage and dignity that won
universal admiration, stated as follows: "At one time
the success of this great work was seriously threatened
by an element of conservatism raising the cry, ' It is
simply suffrage movement ! ' While it is hard to dis-
associate suffrage from any work which depends on a
vote for success, and while the word, denned by "Worces-
ter, means ' a vote, the act of voting,' yet it seems a
poor commentary on the intelligence, patriotism and
even sagacity of that conservatism to raise the question
when the life of a city was trembling in the balance,
and that city their home.
" In justice to women holding suffrage views, I ask
are they to be treated as a class apart because they be-
lieve intelligence and not sex should be the determining
power in government? Is there any wrong in believ-
ing that power added to influence would be a factor in
creating and enforcing laws for a higher moral stand-
ard? Where is the woman, who. holding the power,
would not use it to enforce the laws for the protection
of minors, and to give to character at least the same
protection given to property ? Where is the woman who
would withhold her power from creating and enforcing
a law to read ; ' Equal pay for equal work ' ? Is it un-
womanly to believe the wife's wages should belong to
the wife who earned them? Is it unnatural to resent
being classed with idiots, insane, criminal and minors —
and so on, ad infinitum?
" The Woman's League contributed with no sacrifice
of womanliness, but with a sacrifice of personal com-
fort, to an education against apathy and indifference,
The Southern Woman. 227
to the Godlike charity of helping men to help them-
selves — the keynote of physical as well as moral re-
generation. As women throw the power of your in-
fluence against the dangers of proxies. The proxy
vote is not a personal expression ; it is giving manifold
power into the hands of one individual, and therefore
This wide-awake Era Club has now a petition before
the trustees of Tulane University praying that this pro-
gressive institution will no longer refuse to open its
Medical School to women. It also memorialized its last
legislature for the right to be accorded to women to
witness a legal document ; for, incredible as it may seem,
there still remains among Louisiana statutes, as a sur-
vival of the French habit of thought, toward females,
the disability of a woman to sign a paper as a witness.
Soon after the New Orleans Exposition, Miss Susan
B. Anthony wrote me, while I was president of the
Louisiana Woman's Christian Temperance Union : " I
long to see the grand hosts of the Temperance women
of this nation standing as a unit demanding the one
and only weapon that can smite to the heart the liquor-
traffic. The Kansas women's first vote has sent worse
terror to the soul of the whisky alliance of the nation
than it ever knew before." The temperance hosts
through bitter defeats long ago learned that they can-
not carry their cause without the ballot, and " as a
unit " they may be said to desire it and to work for it.
They know Miss Anthony spoke words of soberness and
experience. The first day there was a great debate, in
the Constitutional Convention of our neighbor State, on
228 Old Times in Dixie Land.
methods of suffrage, about the middle of the day some
one met a pale, haggard prince of liquor dealers rush-
ing excitedly from the gates of the Capital. " My God !
he exclaimed, " if they let the women in our business
is dead ! We must do something ! " — and he hurried
to convene his partners in iniquity. "What they did is
not proclaimed; but immediately nearly every news-
paper in the State began to pour in gatling-gun volleys
against enfranchising women.
About the time Miss Anthony wrote me respecting
Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton coming to lecture. " I
do not want her," she said, " to be translated before
all of your splendid New Orleans women have seen and
heard her." And so I feel about Miss Anthony, I do
not want her " to be translated " until she has seen the
Louisiana woman vote as unrestrictedly as the Louis-
But I should like to ask this question of those men
and women — and there are many such — who are con-
vinced of the righteousness of the women's ballot, but
who do not come forward and strengthen the struggling
vanguard of a great movement, —
" Why is it that you choose to blow
Your bugle in the rear ?
The helper is the man divine
Who tells us something new ; —
The man who tells us something new
And points the road ahead ;
Whose tent is with the forward few —
And not among the dead.
You spy not what the future holds,
A-bugling in the rear.
You're harking back to times outworn,
A-bugling in the rear."
"the best is yet to be/'
Why should women regret the golden period of
youth? There are things finer and more precious than
inexperience and a fair face. When a friend of Pe-
trarch bemoaned the age revealed in his white temples,
he replied : " Nay, be sorry rather that ever I was
young, to be a fool.'' Joyous and lovely as youth is —
and it always seems a pity to be old in the springtime
when everything else is young — how many of us would
be willing to be again in the bonds of crudities, the em-
barrassments, the unreasoning agonies, and to the false
values youth ever sets upon life ? Youth longs for and
cries out after happiness; it would wrest it from the
world as its divine birthright; it does not understand
itself or anybody else ; and the pity of it all is that youth
is gone before it has grasped the fact that its chief con-
cern is not to be loved but to be lovely.
Age is content with comfort. " Content," did I say ?
Nay, old folks are always wanting more and more com-
fort, until they seem out of harmony with surrounding
objects and circumstances. I think it is Ruskin who
says that there are " much sadder days than the early
ones; not sadder in a noble, deep way, but in a dim,
wearied way — the way of ennui and jaded intellect.
230 Old Times in Dixie Land.
The Romans had their life interwoven with white and
purple; the life of the aged is one seamless stuff of
brown." And this is true, so far as beauty of existence
is expressed by variety.
Perhaps there are few periods of keener suffering to
any one than when he first realizes that he is growing
old. This experience is none the less sharp for being
universal; but it comes with peculiar poignancy to a
woman, because of the fictitious estimate that has
always been placed upon her good looks. They are
her highest stock in the market, not through her own
valuation but by man's. If she has never had beauty,
still less can she afford to lose any charm which youth
alone confers. This pain of loss with the majority of
women is not an expression of mere vanity, but — as with
a man — it arises from a fear of waning power, the
dread of inability any longer to be a factor in the
world's value; from the horror of having no longer an
aptness to attract, of being no more desired, of filling
no true place in life — any or all of which is enough to
make a soul cry out for death.
That there is something wrong with our social struc-
ture is not more surely indicated than by the present
demand in all fields of labor for only the young man or
woman. The span of life is perceptibly lengthening for
most civilized peoples; yet, with increase of days, old
age is set forward instead of being proportionally post-
poned. Thirty years ago it was considered that a man
must make his success by fifty years of age, if he made
it at all ; now it is said that unless a man has made his
mark at thirty he is already written down " a back
"The Best is Yet to Be." 231
number." No profession to-day, perhaps, chronicles so
many tragedies as that of the teacher; for school and
college give the preference to the young applicant who
has yet to prove if he have the making of a teacher in
him, while rejected experience dies of a broken heart.
Not long since, it was stated in The Outlook, in reference
to the ministry, that a man over forty years old was
not wanted to fill important charges. Last year I heard
a conversation between a young missionary from China
and a woman of superior attainments, a wide knowledge
of life, high spiritual culture, and who was not yet old ;
who, moreover, was one of the sort who never grow old.
They talked of the advisability of older women enter-
ing the foreign mission field. The missionary advised
that the other make application to the Board, but
frankly stated that the missionaries abroad did not wish
anybody of her age because she would have established
opinions which might conflict with the younger mem-
bers' control of the mission. The church no doubt can
well account for its preference for young people; but
it has seemed to me rather hard on the heathen that
they must be the subjects of untested enthusiasm, how-
ever " consecrated " and zealous it may be.
The tendency to fasten old age prematurely on our
people by the rejection of practical knowledge for the
brawn of youth, seems to find an explanation mainly
in the all-prevailing commercialism of the day. The
herding of productive industries in syndicates and
trusts has destroyed the individual in the industrial
world : it is not the man who is employed, but " the
hand " — so many hands in the office, so many at the
232 Old Times in Dixie Land.
machine ; and these are " put on or knocked off " ac-
cording to the sum totals of the ledger. Manhood is
the football of the dividend, and grows less and less as
the latter grows more and more. Everywhere it is the
same; the young with few ties and responsibilities are
most plastic to the interests of the business; pawns
have widest range of movement, and whoever can cover
the most ground for the least money is the person in
" Trade ! is thy heart all dead, all dead ?
And hast thou nothing but a head ?
O Trade ! O Trade ! would thou wert dead I
The time needs heart — 'tis tired of head."
It is more than shocking to think of the effects on the
English-speaking people — ever inclined to sadness — of
saddening them still more by pushing into the back-
ground those who have passed the first flush of youthful
vigor. It is even worse to reflect upon the over-confi-
dence, the over-consciousness and the irreverence of
youth increased by a preference which does not point to
intrinsic value. Whoever has lost his reverence is al-
ready degenerate; that soul which has lost hope and
courage is dead to achievement, and is unproductive
for himself and his country. Let us give to youth all
its due for its keen curiosity, its vivid expectation, its
unreflecting daring, its joy of pure existence, its all-
the-world-is-mine spirit, and let us give it opportunity
and ever growing privilege; but, as we value reverence,
as we honor knowledge, as we cherish a well-tried faith,
as we trust a noble courage born of proof, let our
"The Best is Yet to Be." 233
customs teach that "Youth ended — what survives is
While so much that is beautiful and attractive in-
heres in youth, it is maturity that possesses perfect
charm. Women should remember this and begin early
to cultivate faith in their power to grow. They should
endeavor to learn to live along a line of steady devel-
opment; to keep themselves in the forefront of thought
and endeavor; to repudiate old age as more a matter
of want of will than of necessity — and so abjure a
statement I have recently heard from a young physician
— that the only disease for which there is no remedy is
old age. There is a remedy in living en rapport with
the subtle forces of growth. Learn the laws of life
and dwell in them; persevere in helping one's self in-
stead of being helped, and it will astonish the world
how long one may live with " natural force unabated "
— yes, and with beauty and power. It is unnatural to
grow old and die; though everybody seems to do it, the
bitter protest against it is a proof that it is against
nature. There must be a better way out than by failure
and decay. Live as an immortal here and now, and in
fulness of time the fetters of the flesh will simply drop
off, like the shell of a locust, and life will go on — from
glory to glory.
I have grown old myself, but I could have kept
younger if my attention had early enough been turned
that way. All that I can do now is to tell other women
to be wiser than I have been — and I wish to tell them,
" The best things any mortal hath
Are those which every mortal shares."
234 Old Times in Dixie Land.
Perhaps all women do not know that the menopause
of life is not a signal for old age. Keleased from her
child-bearing functions, a new lease of life is taken out ;
intellectual power is greatly increased; women should
then, in the ripeness of experience, the mellowness of
judgment and the opportunity for comparison which
the years have conferred, do their best brain-work; be-
sides, there is usually an added beauty of person, a re-
newal of vigor of every kind. At the same time — just
as then the look of some ancestor we have not befoie
been thought to resemble begins to crop out in our
faces — is there a tendency toward the return of natural
defects of character; faults of youth long deemed dead
rise up and defy us. As never before should women be
aware that now their charms must be those of an inner
grace, a spiritual beauty; as they have received during
all the long past, so now must they give out fully,
freely — keeping back not one jot or tittle of life's riches
for self; so will they get very close to the other world
before they get in it.
Women have always interested me. I have studied
them deeply. They have virtues and foibles which are
equally a surprise — " and still the wonder grows."
After a long lifetime of comparison, however, I am
persuaded that men and women are by nature neither
better nor worse the one than the other. How often do
we find some boy to be the sweetest-souled child in the
house and the timidest, while his sister is the strongest,
most unmanageable, and the leading spirit. We are
our father's daughters and our mother's sons; and
superiority of either — in mind, person or morals — is as
"The Best is Yet to Be." 235
it happens and not by reason of sex. Many differences
are but the results of education and would disappear
should the two sexes be treated under identical influ-
ences. Many so-called virtues of women and vices of
men are but the fruits of environment and of the tone
of the public thought.
The shielded., subject position of woman has origi-
nated as many weaknesses in her as excellences. She
is the victim of her own devotion, as well as of her neces-
sity to please the one on whom she and her children are
dependent. If she is illogical, as is claimed, it is only
because her deductions have not generally been made
the rule of action in private or public. It were futile
to run down a proposition to its legitimate conclusion
when somebody else's conclusions are to be in force. A
man's deductions have to stand the test of actual prac-
tice, and not only he but all dependent on him must
sink or swim by their correctness. The logic of the
condition is simply that of the trained and the un-
trained — as may be proven by the fact that propor-
tionally as many women as men who have been thrown
into business or professional life succeed. If women
are not frank, as is sometimes charged, let me ask how
any one can cultivate the high grace of ingenuousness
who in all the ages past had to gain her ends by indirec-
tion, and who may utter not her own thought and opin-
ion and will but that which shall be pleasing to another ?
The irresponsibility of her position in great things
has created a corresponding irresponsibility in other
scarcely less serious matters; for instance, in a freedom
of expression about persons that a man would not dare
236 Old Times in Dixie Land.
to indulge in, because he knows he must be prepared to
defend, with his life, if need be, the accuracy of his
statement. I have sometimes thought the two most
irresponsible of creatures in speech are a college boy
and a woman ; and for the same reason — that both hold
a position of minority which never involves a strict
A distinguished physician once lavished upon a lady,
both of them my guests at the time, such a superfluity
of flattery that I afterward expostulated with him.
" Oh, madam," he answered, " I give her compliments
as I would give a beggar a dime. It is what she baits
and angles for, so I hand her out what she wants ! " It
is a human merit to desire to please; it is equally human
to like to hear when we have succeeded; but excess of
merit ceases to be meritorious. I have often wondered
if woman's subjection has developed such a slavish spirit
in her as sometimes deserves the contempt conveyed in
the above incident?
On the other hand the chief vices of a man are the
result of his ruling attitude as head of the race. Where
there is absolute power there is always abuse of power.
The tyrant must be the chief sufferer for his tyranny,
His absolutism has caused him to fix in law and cus--
tom the expression of his own desires and ideals with-
out due regard to the interests of the rest of humanity
— womanhood and childhood. Thereb}% great vices
inhere in social life of which man is the direct victim.
He has not given himself a proper chance to develop
into his best, because in the exercise of his unfettered
rights he has fastened upon the social organism institu-
"The Best is Yet to Be." 237
tions, temptations and habits which start him out
handicapped, and even with congenital obstructions to
his legitimate evolution. This will be the case so long
as it is considered proper that the little boy at his
mother's knee may hear and see and do things which
it is wrong that his little sister may not hear and see
But slowly, slowly, this misinterpretation for the
race is correcting. We are told that in 1827 (while I
was yet in my infancy) " Von Baer discovered the
ovule — the reproductive cell of the maternal organism —
and demonstrated that its protoplasm contributed at
least one half to the embryo child. Before this time
man was said to be ' the seed and woman the soil.'
The establishment of equal physical responsibility
opened the question of the extent of the mother's men-
tal and moral responsibility." — Like as the vegetable
and animal kingdom are indistinguishable in their
lower orders, so boys and girls differ little in their
natural characteristics until they enter upon the period
which marks their differentiation in function. There
is nothing rudimentary in the formation of the female
body; it possesses two entire organs — the uterus and
the breast — which are wanting or rudimentary in the
male. These organs, according to Webster, are "the
seat of the passions, the affections and operations of the
mind." Their functions constitute woman's special do-
main, her exclusive kingdom, where man cannot intrude,
which he may not share.
Nature Tecognizes the importance of the mother by
restricting the exercise of her peculiar office to the
238 Old Times in Dixie Land.
meridian of life — her ripest maturity — in order that
the race may be protected in full vigor. Other parts of
her being, which may have lain dormant or in partial
disuse through over-estimated activity in other direc-
tions, now awake, and late in years women may perform
wonders in an intellectual and business way. I re-
cently heard a wise and brilliant speaker — a man — say,
" I never try to make a man over forty years old grasp
new ideas of action. He cannot. There's something
the matter with him — whether pride of opinion or
rigidity of brain I know not; but I do know that it is
different with a woman. She seems to be always re-
The twentieth century begins with a reconstructed
mental state toward the race. It does not believe in
woman's natural inferiority, nor in man's exclusive
ideals. It recognizes that the wellbeing of both man
and woman consists in a whole humanity, and that
there can be no whole humanity with anything less than
perfect freedom for both halves of it. The right to
freedom of thought and liberty of speech is established
for a woman nearly as fully as for a man; but the past
stretches out a ghastly finger, and looking back to pre-
cedent, delays full freedom of action; hereditary in-
ertia, the chains of ancient prejudice and the strength
of present customs are obstacles to be reckoned with in
the rapidity of future development. But women and
men are now both thinking, are both educating for the
battle of life, are beginning to tramp side by side in the
march of ideas and endeavor. Mothers realize intensely
that if they had known how better to rear their sons
" The Best is Yet to Be." 239
there would already be a better race ; but they have been
so held down during all the ages that they have not
understood how to make a free, noble son, and a daugh-
ter fit to mate with him.
Sometimes the way seems long and devious, and hu-
man apprehension is so dull that our hearts faint.
There is so much to correct in creatures as well as in
conditions that we wonder why even Divine patience
does not despair. But there is to me logical encourage-
ment in the reflection that actually up to the date of
my own birth, girls were admitted into the public
schools of Boston only during the summer months when
there were not boys enough in attendance to fill the
desks; science and all but rudimentary mathematics
were considered beyond their faculties. Not only high
schools but the chief colleges of the world are now open
to women, and co-education is a growing determination.
Women are now admitted — as reported by the Commis-
sioner of Education — to one hundred and fifty colleges
and universities in America. Of these one hundred
and five are denominational — notwithstanding that the
liberty wherewith Christ maketh free has been the root
of woman's emancipation. To-day all the professions
except the ministry are open to women; yet there are
many women evangelists, and others who have taken
the course in theological schools. Woman has learned
the power of organization, and her full political liberty
is now in sight. Some persons are afraid that the ac-
tivity in woman's interests exhibited, during the last
quarter of a century will experience a reaction. Well,
religious revivals, like showers on earth, are always fol-
240 Old Times in Dixie Land.
lowed by a dry spell. Still — let us have rain ! We
should not be disheartened because history always moves
in spirals, and not by direct ascent.
The new century begins with a radiant idea which
now seems a new-born impulse of the present day; yet
nineteen hundred years ago it haunted the heart of the
divine Judean philosopher and prophet. This hoary
new idea is that love alone can
" Follow Time's dying melodies through,
And never lose the old in the new, —
And ever solve the discords true."
The true keynote of human harmonies is struck a£
last. Little by little the ages have caught the vibration
until the listening heart can already discern the great
anthem of the future — the " Hallelujah Chorus " of
Equality, Brotherhood. Standing as we do midway
between two centuries, to-day the music of the past and
of the future is ringing in our souls. A new world looms
into view. Along its bright and shining way we see a
humanity ennobled because well-born, of a free and
willing mother and a self-controlled, justice-loving
father, and because in all its systems and customs it is
" Thinking God's thoughts after Him." If I did not
believe this I could not have written out my little life-
story. Now in the sunset of my days I wish to sound
out to all women full and clear the note of hope that is
growing every day in sweetness and power in my own
spirit: "It is daybreak everywhere."
As a last word I know no more heartening comfort
than Eabbi Ben Ezra's:
" The Best is Yet to Be." 241
" Grow old along me !
The best is yet to be,
The last of life for which the first was made ;
Youth shows but half ; trust God ;
See all, nor be afraid.
Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last.'